A Florida woman has almost certainly landed on Santa’s Naughty List after being accused of stealing “hundreds” of toys from the charity Toys For Tots, News 13 (Orlando) is reporting.
Tammy Strickland, 38, stands accused of scamming the Toys For Tots program, the Marine Corps charity that helps distribute toys to children in need, not just at Christmas, but during times of disaster as well.
Authorities, acting on a tip, took a look at the applications (that’s applications, plural) Strickland had filled out for toys for “needy children” for whom she was collecting toys. Doing some digging, they determined that the would-be Grinch had filled out dozens of fictitious applications for toys, using assumed names on each application. They say she used the names of 28 fictitious adults who “applied” for toys from the charity, and made up the names of 140 children who would be receiving toys (amazing how each family had exactly five children). But each application had one thing in common: Tammy Strickland was the “contact person.”
CHARITY GRINCH — Detectives say Tammy Strickland filed 28 fake applications to get free toys from ‘Toys for Tots’ https://t.co/4QIOcSGzFw
— AngryAmericansUnited (@LastWave2014) December 20, 2016
Cops then set up a sting: a detective, pretending to be a Toys For Tots volunteer, contacted Strickland on the phone. Give somebody enough rope, as the saying goes, and they’ll eventually hang themselves, and that’s what Strickland did on the phone that day.
“And then it was Friday and I was like maybe the applications that I had took didn’t get in or something, so I started panicking because I have so many people calling me.”
Not to worry, said the “Toys For Tots” volunteer — the toys would be ready for her to pick up at a warehouse in the nearby town of Eagle Lake on Monday. Strickland, who has three arrests dating back to 2006, showed up and, with the help of several family members, loaded the toys into a trailer. Cops got it all on video.
Here’s Tammy Strickland getting arrested yesterday when she came to Toys For Tots to pick up bags of toys for 140 fake kids she made up. pic.twitter.com/aYHd6XtuV7
— Ryan Raiche (@ryanraiche) December 20, 2016
Strickland was arrested on the spot and taken to the clink. Meanwhile, authorities executed a search warrant on her home. There, they allegedly found 118 unwrapped toys still in their original packages. According to the Bradenton Herald, a person in the home allegedly told police the toys were “for Toys For Tots.”
The Florida Grinch is currently looking at charges of grand theft, 28 counts of providing false statement to obtain property, obtaining property by fraud, and 164 counts of possessing counterfeit/fictitious identification.
Strickland may yet wind up facing even more criminal charges: authorities are now taking a look at 2015 Toys For Tots applications, and wouldn’t you know it, Strickland’s name appears as the “contact person” for multiple other applications under multiple names.
A Toys For Tots volunteer, who was not identified, expressed sadness that someone would scam a charity that gives toys to children.
“Well it makes you mad and sad to know there is someone out there trying to steal toys from the children.”
In case you’re wondering what Strickland was planning on doing with all of those stolen toys, you’re in good company. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd would like to know as well.
“Is she selling them? Is she giving them away? [I don’t know]. But she just dadgum sure is stealing.”
Strickland remains jailed in the Polk County Jail on $30,000 bond.
[Featured Image by Polk County Sheriff’s Office]