Police: Winning scratch-off ticket leads to arrest of car theft suspect

Police arrested Taz Marshall Whittemore after they say they tracked his winning lottery ticket...
Police arrested Taz Marshall Whittemore after they say they tracked his winning lottery ticket to a stolen vehicle.(Smith County Jail)
Published: Sep. 27, 2022 at 5:54 PM EDT
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SMITH COUNTY, Texas (KLTV/Gray News) - An alleged car thief may have found a winning scratch-off ticket in a truck, but his luck stopped there.

In July 2021, investigators in Smith County, Texas, said they tracked a winning Texas Lottery scratch-off found in one of four vehicles stolen from European Automotive Repair in Tyler, KLTV reported.

The ticket’s winnings were redeemed from a 7-Eleven store where investigators said they saw, via surveillance video, 28-year-old Taz Marshall Whittemore arriving in a black 2014 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck.

According to an arrest affidavit, Whittemore and another defendant were allegedly observed in the Silverado at a Walmart store earlier that same day.

The affidavit states Whittemore was arrested in Rusk County on July 21, 2021, on several outstanding warrants as well as on-site charges. Upon learning of his arrest, Smith County investigators spoke with him at the Rusk County Jail, at which point he allegedly confessed to stealing the four vehicles.

In addition to the Silverado, the vehicles stolen included a 2007 Mercedes-Benz 320ML SUV, a silver BMW 745 sedan and a 2003 Toyota 4Runner. The four vehicles represented a collective value of $46,000. Investigators said they found three of the four vehicles in the woods about a half-mile from the repair shop where they were stolen.

Whittemore was charged with theft of property between $30,000 and $150,000, a third-degree felony. Smith County Jail records show Whittemore is also charged with multiple unrelated counts of theft of property.