Gas stations warned of lotto ticket thefts
Ardmore police are warning business owners about a string of recent lottery ticket thefts and asking for help to locate the suspect accused of stealing hundreds of dollars worth of tickets.
In a Friday statement, the Ardmore Police Department said 26-year-old Aireal Michelle Simpkins has faced multiple charges of larceny from a retail merchant in the last two years in Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas. Simpkins is suspected of stealing tickets from at least two Ardmore businesses as recently as last week.
According to Ardmore police Capt. Claude Henry, Simpkins is accused of stealing $600 worth of lottery tickets from a 12th Avenue Northwest gas station on May 23. “She requested 30 lottery tickets that were worth $20 a piece,” said Ardmore police Capt. Claude Henry.
Simpkins reportedly uses diversion tactics to catch employees off guard. According to Friday’s statement, she initially asks for lottery tickets and shows cash, but changes her mind and instead selects large amounts of snacks.
After asking for an item behind the counter, such as cigarettes, Simpkins allegedly takes the lottery tickets and flees in either a black or blue Chevrolet Malibu or Impala. “It was discovered that Simpkins apparently operates the same in every case,” read the statement.
Similar incidents of organized lottery ticket thefts have been reported to Ardmore police in recent months, according to Henry. Formal charges against Simpkins for two Ardmore incidents have been forwarded to the Carter County District Attorney.
In January, the Oklahoma City Police Department had identified Simpkins as a suspect in lottery ticket thefts and said she was also wanted by authorities in Norman, Yukon and Guthrie. She was arrested by police in Arkansas on charges of lottery fraud and theft of property on May 16 but was released two days later, according to information from the Pope County, Ark. Sheriff’s Office website.
Ardmore police believe the woman follows state highways and selects small stores near the highway. Store owners, clerks and citizens are being asked to be on the lookout for Simpkins. Anyone with information is being asked to contact Detective John Johnson at (580) 221-2556. Callers may remain anonymous.