Thieves push luck with lottery ticket thefts

Posted at 11:37 PM, Mar 20, 2012
and last updated 2012-03-21 06:40:58-04

PETERSBURG, Va. (WTVR) - Thieves have been robbing convenience stores around the Interstate 95 corridor. The target has been caseloads of scratch-off lottery tickets.

Petersburg police have exclusive surveillance video from Tuesday at the Petersburg Grocery and Meat store that shows a suspect kicking the front door in and jumping over the counter.

On his way back out, the man swiped a case filled scratch off lottery tickets.

Petersburg police are trying to figure out if this robbery is linked to other recent cases.

Lottery ticket heists like this one are on the radar of central Virginia law enforcement.

A 7-11 clerk was beaten with a lead pipe and lottery tickets stolen just north of Richmond in Spotsylvania County a couple of weeks ago.

Police said that hours later that man redeemed the stolen tickets for cash at an Ashland East Coast gas station.

Lottery officials stress the importance of alerting them to these kinds of thefts, as soon as possible.

"Every Virginia lottery ticket has a unique bar code on the back, so as soon as we are told the roll has been stolen, we deactivate it and put it in a non cashable status,” said John Hagerty, a lottery spokesman.

Police said the man seen in this photo has been linked to similar break-ins and robberies in Richmond, Henrico and Colonial Heights.

All of the crimes have happened the same way, at three and five in the morning, with only lottery tickets being stolen.

All the stores that have been hit were stores close to I-95.

Now police are trying to figure out if it's one guy acting alone, or several people involved in an elaborate ring.

Lottery officials stress the importance of store clerks and police to call their 24-hour service phone number if tickets have been stolen so they can flag them.

Police are asking you at home tonight-if you recognize the man in the photo we showed, call Crimestoppers at 780-1000.