Caught on camera: Visalia police arrest suspect in lottery scratcher thefts

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Visalia police say a man who stole hundreds of lottery tickets at different places around town is now in custody.

Hayden's Liquor was the last place where police say the suspect stole the lotto scratchers. It was there that detectives say he pointed a gun at woman before he took off with hundreds of dollars in tickets.

This exclusive look at surveillance video from inside the liquor store shows the suspect Gurpreet Brar placing down one winning lotto scratcher after another and then cashing in on more than $1,000 in winnings.

But he walks out of the store. Police quickly arrest him for the theft and robbery.

"He had a big stack. A lot of tickets," said Harjinder Singh Thandi with Hayden's Liquor.

A police officer driving by noticed the suspect's car. It matched the description of one suspected in two lottery scratcher thefts from earlier in the day.

The first theft happened at a Valero on Houston Avenue. Visalia police say the suspect walked in, asked for several hundred dollars' worth of lotto scratchers, and once they were on the counter, took off with them.

Then, nine hours later, he headed south of town to the Kwik Mart on Mooney Boulevard.

"This time he was armed with what appeared to be a semi-automatic handgun," said Visalia Police Sgt. Damon Maurice. "He then robbed the store of several hundred dollars' worth of lottery tickets and fled in the same vehicle."

After the armed robbery, police were able to get a good description of his car, a Dodge Charger. A short time later they found him at Hayden's, cashing in.

"Then we did search his vehicle and found a dark pellet gun that we believe was used at the Kwik stop," said Maurice.

Employees at Hayden's Liquor were surprised by Brar's arrest. They say the friendly customer had started coming in two months ago and would buy a few lotto tickets every other day.

"Normally he buys them just four or five and then leaves, four, five or 10, but last night I seen a stack of about I don't know how many, 200 or 300, more than that," said Thandi.

Visalia police believe the suspect could be responsible for more lottery ticket robberies. Detectives are now talking with the Tulare County Sheriff's Office about several unsolved cases that are similar to see if they could all be connected.

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