SPRINGFIELD, N.J. — An alleged lottery ticket thief was not lucky enough to get away with stealing 900 New Jersey Lottery tickets, let alone hit the potential $5 million jackpot, according to police.
An investigation led police to arrest Andrew Miller, 20, of Scotch Plains, on Monday, and charge him with a slew of ticket thefts, said Springfield Township Det. Lt. Judd Levenson, the department's spokesman.
Miller was found in Scotch Plains on Monday at 12:30 p.m. after Springfield police determined he had stolen at least $2,000 worth of lottery tickets from 10 different stores in N.J., including three in Springfield, Levenson said.
Miller, who was wearing a blue North Face jacket and a royal blue L.A. Dodgers baseball cap at one point during his "four- to five-day" ticket theft spree, was wearing the same items when he was arrested, Levenson said.
He also was found with stolen lottery tickets, Levenson said.
Besides stealing from three Springfield stores, Miller allegedly stole lottery tickets from a store each in Plainfield, Cranford, Rahway, Union, Bound Brook, Green Brook and Middlesex, the detective said. In each case, Miller's face was exposed when he asked the clerk for a pack of ten $20 or $30 lottery tickets, and then ran away when the clerk's back was turned, Levenson said. In several cases, he was wearing a "Restore the Store" shirt, he said.
Miller also abandoned an attempt to steal tickets in another Springfield store, he said.
Miller stole ten $20 rub-off lottery tickets from a Springfield 7-Eleven on Rt. 22 on Thursday at 11 p.m., authorities said, and then did the same at 10:24 a.m. on Friday at Dave's Sweet Shop. At 7 p.m. Friday, he stole ten $30 rub-off tickets from the Delta Gas station on South Springfield Ave., Levenson said.
He also asked for ten $20 tickets at 10 a.m. on Friday at Springfield Mountain Variety Store, but left them on the counter before leaving the store, Levenson said.
Springfield police used video to determine Miller drove a dark-colored sedan, the detective said, and later learned he had executed the "identical crime" elsewhere.
On Monday, Springfield Det. James Mirabile and Det. Foster Ziegler drove around Scotch Plains, where someone was cashing the stolen tickets, and spotted a parked car that looked like the Miller's.
At that moment, Miller came out to the car, inside of which was a pack of ten $20 lottery tickets stolen in Plainfield that morning, Levenson said.
He was charged with three counts of theft, one count of receiving stolen property, possession under 50 grams of marijuana, and operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license, police said.
Miller did not talk to police about his motives or intentions for stealing about 900 tickets, authorities said, and has a municipal court appearance scheduled for Nov. 25, officials said.
A message seeking comment was left Tuesday afternoon at a Scotch Plains number believed to be Miller's.
Calling the case "unusual," Levenson said in his past 29 years a detective, he had never seen anyone specialize in stealing lotto tickets.
"If you hit the $5 million (top prize), that would be miraculous," he said. "But in reality, if you steal a whole lot of rub-off tickets, if you made a couple bucks on each of these tickets, those tickets might be worth a couple thousand (dollars)... It's a gamble, because you can steal ten tickets, and all ten of those tickets come up to be nothing."
"He was basically playing the lottery, hoping to try to win based off the tickets he stole," he added.
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