Police are trying to find a man who is probably frustrated because a batch of state lottery tickets he swiped from a convenience store last month is now useless.
The man got into a Han-Dee Hugo’s store on Durant Road by driving a car into the glass front about 4 a.m. on July 21, police said. They say he left a few minutes later with a batch of scratch-off N.C. Education Lottery tickets that had been on a counter.
As soon as a store reports tickets stolen, the lottery locks those out of the system, and there is no way to collect on any winners that might be among them, said Van Denton, the lottery’s communications director.
Police said the fellow they want was able to turn in three winners at other stores, getting a total of $45, in the 2.5 hours after the break-in. Then the gold turned to straw.
In addition to a security-camera picture of the man, police also have photos from other locations of him trying to cash in tickets.
If a store reports stolen tickets and has good records of which tickets were legally bought before the theft, the stolen tickets are rendered useless, Denton said.
The lottery can help because it records which of the millions of tickets sold annually go to which vendors, Denton said, though he stressed that no one knows which tickets among them are winners.
Once a store starts the process by reporting the theft, the lockout can begin, Denton said.
Winning scratch-off tickets with prizes up to $599 can be cashed at a lottery vendor, Denton said. Prizes of $600 or more have to be collected at a lottery office, and that generates extensive checking of identification and tax reporting.
Two days after the break-in, a Raleigh officer on patrol found a Jeep Grand Cherokee in a parking lot on Falls of Neuse Road, and she connected it with the description of one seen on security cameras at the store, police spokesman Jim Sughrue said.
The Jeep had lottery tickets inside, Sughrue said, and turned out to have been stolen before the man used it as a battering ram.
Police said their suspect is white, about 5 feet 10 inches tall and has a medium build and dark hair.
Police ask anyone who thinks they recognize the suspect or who knows something that could help detectives to call Raleigh CrimeStoppers at 919-834-4357 or visit the CrimeStoppers website for text and email reporting options.
CrimeStoppers pays cash rewards for anonymous tips that help solve cases.