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Lottery tickets allegedly stolen
Mar 25, 2005 12:00 am
Authorities say two local store clerks took a gamble and lost when they stole more than $30,000 worth of state lottery "scratch off" tickets from their employer.
One of the two, Rose M. Waddell, was arraigned Tuesday before Criminal Court Judge J.O. Bond on a charge of theft of property over $10,000.
Waddell, who is free on bond after being indicted in early January, was ordered to return to court in May.
Also charged with theft of property over $10,000 is Ardie M. Culbreath, who like Waddell is a former clerk at Cedar Forest Market on Highway 231 South.
The two were indicted after an investigation headed by Wilson County Sheriff's Department Detective Jeff Johnson, who said they are shown "plain as day" committing the thefts on the store's video security system.
"You can see them doing it over and over. They would basically just help themselves and scratch off tickets between customers. If they lost they would just throw it away, but if they won they'd either collect money or get more scratch off tickets," Johnson said. "Most of the time they just took tickets back instead of cash, but we think they took some cash a few times too."
The pair was duped into stealing the tickets on camera after hours by their suspicious employer, according to Johnson, who said the store owner told the women to turn the video surveillance system on and off at the start and end of their shifts.
But the camera was actually rigged so that it could not be turned off, Johnson said, capturing video of the women allegedly stealing the tickets after store hours.
"The store owner had some suspicions that something wasn't right with his scratch off tickets," the detective said.
However, he said the women would play the tickets during store hours "between customers" even when aware the video camera was operating.
"It (the video camera) was pointed right at them. You can see them between customers, scratching off tickets over and over," he said.
When questioned, he said the women claimed they kept a running tab of the tickets they played and repaid the store every two weeks.
However, neither woman could produce any evidence substantiating that claim, Johnson noted.
He said the district attorney's office contacted Tennessee State Lottery officials about the thefts but said the commission left the case in the hands of local authorities because the tickets were the property of the store at the time they were allegedly stolen.
"It's my understanding that once they're sent to a store, the lottery tickets then become the property of the store and not the state," Johnson said.
Senior Staff Writer Brooks Franklin can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 14 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.