Police: Muncie thieves use ‘flat’ soda as a decoy to steal lotto tickets

MUNCIE, Ind.- Two Muncie thieves have been testing their luck. Investigators figured out the couple’s elaborate scheme to steal scratch-offs, but it’s taken longer to track them down.

“It’s quick, they grab as many as they can and then she quickly gets out,” said Detective Dustin Lee, with the Muncie Police Department.

Surveillance video from a Muncie gas station shows a woman at the counter with what appears to be an empty soda cup. Detectives say the boyfriend and girlfriend have been saying the same story over and over to the nearly dozen gas stations they’ve hit in the past month.

Supposedly, the woman complains to the clerk that her soda is flat. The clerk then goes over to the soda machine with the woman’s boyfriend, leaving the counter unattended. Surveillance video shows seconds after the employee walks away from the counter, the woman reaches over and grabs as many lottery tickets as possible.

“They just go around looking for any type of way to make money,” said Lee.

Earlier this week, a Marathon gas station on North Wheeling Street was hit. Karendeep Singh, 20, was working that evening.

“I was like, 'What the hell are you doing? You’re not supposed to do that. You can go to jail,'” said Singh.

Singh says the couple told him the same “my soda is flat" story. The clerk actually chased the boyfriend and girlfriend out to the parking lot.

“As soon as she seen me she ran out to the car and I chased her outside and I pulled her out from the car and all of a sudden the man who was with her at the time he pushed me really hard,” said Singh.

As soon as a lottery ticket is reported stolen, Hoosier Lottery is able to deactivate it. If the stolen tickets aren’t reported immediately, they’re re still valid. Detectives tell us the thieves have been quick to scratch and cash nearly $700, but detectives also used those redeemed tickets to track them.

“We know if that serial number was used, then we can go to that specific store and look at their surveillance and make sure it was them that redeemed the tickets,” said Lee.

Thursday night was the night the couple’s lucky streak ended. Investigators say the two pulled off their same plan at an Albany gas station, but this time officers were nearby. After a pursuit, Abby Engle was arrested. She is now facing several theft charges.

Police are still searching for her boyfriend.