While too good to be true lottery scams hit the news all the time, stories of crimes involving real lotteries happen less frequently.

Apparently, a 37-year-old Ceres, California man was arrested by local and state detectives after stealing thousands of lottery tickets in a series of burglaries stretching throughout California’s Central Valley. I suppose this takes the gambling addiction warnings on the California lottery site to a new level?

The lottery addict in question, one Matthew Roberts, is a suspect in 30 burglaries from November to June that had one common denominator — the theft of lottery tickets. During the arrest at a house in Ceres, several other people were arrested for drug and parole violations, also.

Investigators with the California Lottery’s Law Enforcement Division began to see a pattern in the lottery ticket thefts that were occurring, according to the press release on this matter. They began working with the local authorities in the area where the burglaries were occurring.

In May, alert SaveMart grocery store employees noted an individual attempting to cash in a on a winning lottery ticket reported stolen in the burglaries. They were able to get a license plate number and this led to Roberts being identified as the lottery ticket bandit.

Roberts has been charged in three of the burglaries and for auto theft. According to the authorities, there will be additional charges filed in the coming weeks as well as additional arrests. I guess this means that there might be additional lottery bandits still at large?

In this instance, we are probably dealing with a not so bright criminal. Given that lottery security is extremely tight and the inventory is tracked by computer — stealing lottery tickets probably isn’t the smartest way to win a lottery. It’s pretty obvious that the alert employees at SaveMart were tipped off electronically that the ticket(s) being presented were “hot.”

This isn’t the first time in recent history, the California Lottery Police have made headlines. In May, it was announced that they were using undercover agents to catch dishonest retailers, who were cheating winners out of their prizes. Winning tickets of $500 to $25,000 were presented to retailers and several of them were caught pretending the prize was smaller and keeping the proceeds for themselves. Several arrests were made throughout California as a result of the sting.

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