Lottery Ticket Thief Suspect Arrested

CERES, Calif. (AP) - State and local detectives arrested a man they say stole thousands of dollars in state lottery Scratchers tickets after a months-long investigation of more than 30 thefts.

Starting last year, officials say 37-year-old Matthew Roberts stole the tickets by breaking into stores in Modesto, Turlock, Delhi and Ceres after they had closed.

Detectives in the California Lottery's Law Enforcement Division noticed a pattern and created a task force in early December to catch the thief.

The break in the case came in May after someone redeemed one of the stolen tickets. Scratchers have serial numbers that are entered into a statewide database when they are stolen.

Store employees gave investigators the redeemers' license plate number, which led them to Roberts' house.

He is being held on three counts of burglary, and other unrelated charges from another county.

Information from: The Modesto Bee,

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-08-16-08 2011EDT

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