MIDLOTHIAN - They’ve hit convenience stores across the Metroplex and now they have struck in Midlothian.
Police are looking for a man and woman who entered the P&S Food Store on Ninth Street in Midlothian Tuesday afternoon and while the woman distracted the clerk the man snatched more than 50 lottery tickets.
One of the tickets was a $200 winner.
“The man came in first with money in his hand and struck up a conversation while he looked at the lottery tickets,” said Bob Lancaster, clerk at the P&S Food Store. “Then the girl came in and went to the back and picked up a drink in a glass bottle and dropped it on the floor.”
Lancaster said when he went to help clean up the mess, the man apparently grabbed lottery tickets from behind the counter.
“They were real slick and very polite and my first concern was that nobody got hurt and to clean up the spill,” Lancaster said. “I didn’t know we had had a theft until I closed out that night.”
The incident happened about 2:15 p.m. Tuesday.
The thieves then went to the Midlothian P&S Food Store on U.S. Highway 287 that afternoon and cashed in a $200 ticket. Lancaster said an audit revealed 50 tickets had been stolen.
Police said thieves have stolen lottery tickets at seven different Bedford convenience stores in recent days. A store in Grapevine was also hit. The thefts started July 3 followed by two July 4, one last Friday, and three over the weekend. In all of the cases, one of the thieves distracted the cashier while another grabbed the tickets.
Police were viewing store surveillance videos from the stores on Tuesday, trying to determine if the thieves are linked to all the cases.
Lancaster said he only suspects two people in the Midlothian theft. He said he did not remember a vehicle.
Investigators estimate at least five people have stolen the tickets.
One particular suspect continues to pop up on convenience store surveillance videos, police said, describing him as a white male more than 6 feet tall. The suspect has tattoos extending from his left shoulder to his elbow.
One video shows him joking with a clerk at the Bedford Easy Mart on Forrest Ridge just before stealing a handful of scratch-off lotto tickets.
In other cases, surveillance video captured a man and woman operating together, and an older man has also been seen on video stealing tickets. Three men have posed as customers, created a distraction and then lifted the tickets, police said, saying the thieves may be able to cash some of the winning tickets in small denominations at stores.
However, if they hit a jackpot, they must take the winning tickets to the Texas Lottery Commission and reveal their identities.