Polk sheriff: Woman stole hundreds of toys from Toys for Tots

By Rod Gipson (Digital Producer) and Rick Elmhorst (Reporter),
Last Updated: Thursday, December 22, 2016, 5:28 PM EST

A 38-year-old Eagle Lake woman is facing serious charges after deputies said she illegally attempted to collect more than 100 toys from Toys for Tots. 

  • Tammy Strickland accused of using fake applications to take toys
  • Polk Sheriff Grady Judd said she received 100-plus toys 
  • Strickland facing multiple charges

According to the Polk County Sheriff's Office, Tammy Strickland used 140 fictitious children’s names and 28 fictitious adult names on falsified “Toys for Tots” applications. 

Strickland then picked up the toys and loaded them into a trailer Monday at the the Toys for Tots warehouse.

She is facing 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.  

"Children in need. ‘Toys for Tots.’ These things are synonymous with Christmas," Polk Sheriff Grady Judd said. "Sadly, in this case, so is The Grinch.  

"Tammy Strickland spent a long time filling out fraudulent applications for nonexistent children to receive toys. Now she’ll be spending a lot of time in jail." 

Strickland is also facing 84 additional felony charges and 13 additional misdemeanor charges for providing a false statement. The 84 new charges relate to 13 fraudulent Toys for Tots applications she submitted to the organization in 2015. 

Detectives determined that 13 of the 15 applications she submitted in 2015 were for fake children and families -- 13 fictitious adults and 69 fictitious children. 

The previous charges were for the fake applications she submitted in 2016. Strickland is now facing a total of 248 felonies and 41 misdemeanors. 

Authorities said they first received a tip last month about Strickland. 


Holding a picture of The Grinch in one hand and Tammy Strickland in the other, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said Strickland scammed her way into stealing hundreds of toys from Toys for Tots.

Detectives determined Strickland had submitted a large number of applications requesting assistance from Toys for Tots on behalf of dozens of children. Strickland was listed as the “contact person” on each of the applications.

In a recorded phone call with a deputy posing as a Toys for Tots volunteer, Strickland seemed concerned that the children she was trying to help wouldn't get presents. 

"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," Strickland said in the phone call recording. 

Undercover deputies met Strickland at the Toys for Tots warehouse in the Eagle Lake area on Monday. With the help of several family members accompanying her, Strickland loaded the toys on the trailer.  

Strickland, who has three other arrests dating to 2006, was then arrested. 

Also, deputies served a search warrant at Strickland's home and found another 118 unwrapped toys still in their packaging.

A witness in the home said the toys were from “Toys for Tots.” 

"Well it makes you mad and sad to know there is someone out there trying to steal toys from the children," said a volunteer. 

Detectives determined that Strickland submitted “Toys for Tots” applications during 2015 as well. Those applications are currently under review.

"Is she selling them?" Judd asked. "Is she giving them away?

"(I don't know). But she just dadgum sure is stealing."  

Strickland's bond has been set at $30,000.