The Investigators: Lottery Thieves - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

The Investigators: Lottery Thieves Round-Up

By Andy Wise - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

FRAYSER (WMC TV) - The Tennessee lottery's ticket system tracked them.

The Action News 5 Scam Cam followed them.

Now two out of three suspected lottery ticket thieves -- are toast.

Action News 5 viewers identified 43-year-old Kenneth Phillips, 33-year-old Terrence Borum and 29-year-old Joseph Redmon - all of Frayser - as the men who broke into a Tipton County, TN, convenience store Aug. 26.  They stole more than $10,000 in lottery tickets, according to Tipton County Sheriff's Office Deputy Chief Donna Turner.

After Action News 5 aired Scam Cam footage of the burglary, Borum was arrested on an outstanding warrant for driving under a suspended license.  Jail records indicate he's in custody at the Shelby County jail.

Thursday, Tipton County investigators arrested Phillips in Frayser.  Det. Scottie DeLashmit said Phillips would be charged with theft in connection with the stolen lottery tickets.

Redmon remains at large, although investigators found his Cadillac at 2586 Durham in Frayser.

DeLashmit said Lottery Tennessee's ticket-tracking system made it possible to identify the suspects.  The system mixes both electronic and written tracing methods.  It can follow a single ticket wherever it goes.

It tracked 18 of the tickets stolen from the Drummonds BP station, 3795 Drummonds Rd., in Tipton County, TN.  The Scam Cam captured one of the suspects attempting to redeem one or more of the tickets at Frayser store.

"We are automatically notified," said Turner.  "We have actually stopped people that were in the process of redeeming a stolen ticket at another location.  It's a great system."

But the tracking system is only as great as the vendors who contribute to it.  Vinod Kumar, the owner of the Drummonds BP, admitted he did not properly inventory all of the tickets stolen that day.

As a result, he'll have to eat the cost of those tickets.  Kumar estimated that loss to be between $8,000 and $10,000.

"If (vendors) report them, we can help (the vendors)," said Tennessee Education Lottery President & CEO Rebecca Hargrove.  "If they don't report it, it's no different than any other item in your store that is stolen.

"If somebody went in and stole cigarettes and smoked them, they're gone, and the retailer will have to pay the cigarette company for the cigarettes."

Doug Ballinger, one of the owners and operators of the Riverside Grill, 694 Riverside Dr., Downtown Memphis, is recognized by lottery officials as one of the most responsible lottery vendors in Shelby County.

Ballinger said the tracking system works perfectly when vendors electronically activate each ticket as soon as they buy each ticket, then keep a running, written log of each ticket's game number and when it was activated.  That seals each ticket's connection to his store.

"We take account at the beginning and the end of each day," said Ballinger. 

Because Ballinger activates and logs each ticket daily, each ticket's tracking number goes straight to the lottery's security database instantly.

"The people who bought them legitimately can still cash in their tickets, but the ones we report stolen cannot be cashed in," he said.

"(The system) works for everybody," said DeLashmit.

Tipton County investigators and Action News 5 could still use your help in weeding out Joseph Redmon.  If you know where he can be found, please contact the Tipton County Sheriff's Office at 901-475-3300 or 901-475-3307.  Tips can also be e-mailed to sheriff@tiptonco.com.

Tipsters can also call Crime Stoppers of Tipton County, Inc., at 901-476-4411.  Crime Stoppers will pay cash for tips that lead to the arrests and/or indictments of these suspects.

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