Friday, June 03, 2005

The Free and Easy Way to Instant Wealth?

If my salary were, say, at least 1.5 times what it is right now, I might gamble a bit and play the Pennsylvania Lottery. As it stands, I really can't afford to be throwing away a few bucks here and there on the chance that I might win millions -- or at least get back whatever I paid into the lottery. I am too conservative to take that kind of risk.

Many people are willing to take a chance, as evidenced by ticket sales whenever there is a sizeable jackpot on the line. There are some people out there who are daring enough to play the lottery in a very dangerous and illegal way, even going so far as to steal thousands of dollars worth of tickets from a gas station in the middle of the night:

It had been 15 years since Hugh Campbell's Sunoco service station in North Huntingdon Township was last burglarized.

But the May 20 smash-and-grab robbery at his 42-year-old family business, Campbell's Ultra Service Center, along Clay Pike Road, proved to be significant when thieves made off with 20 rolls of scratch-off lottery tickets. The face value of the $1, $2, $3, $5, $10 and $20 instant tickets is $3,000.

"They broke in around 3:30 a.m. They never came into the building. They just took the whole display case through the window. They were gone in seconds," he said Thursday.

The thieves must feel pretty good about now. Somewhere in those twenty rolls, there must be enough winning tickets to make close to the $3000 that would have been paid for them. The perfect crime, right? No way to catch the burglar because there were no witnesses?

Ah, do not be so quick to underestimate the power of contemporary law enforcement:

A break in the case came when the thieves -- a man and woman according to videotape surveillance -- began cashing in some of the tickets at various lottery retailers in Allegheny County. There's even an image of their vehicle on tape, so police say they are confident arrests will be made soon.

As of yesterday evening, a North Huntingdon police spokeswoman said the station received a number of calls about the identities of the pair, but no arrests had been made.

Is the criminal mind supremely confident of its ability to get away with anything, or is it just monumentally stupid? Did they not suspect the presence of a video camera? Did they think that the best thing to do would be to go to a neighboring county and cash in the tickets? By the time those twenty rolls of lottery tickets are all scratched off, every store that gives a payoff is very likely going to have a way to identify the crooks.

I do believe that the police are right to be confident about making an arrest, and I am looking forward to news of just such an arrest being made soon.

No comments: