MARATHON, Fla. – A former Kmart employee was arrested last week, a month after he allegedly stole $1,860 worth of lottery tickets from a Kmart store in Marathon.
Jojy Joseph, 40, was arrested Nov. 1 in Lexington, South Carolina, on charges of grand theft and dealing in stolen property.
The incident was reported to authorities Oct. 4 by the store's general manager.
Monroe County Sheriff's Office deputies said the manager of the Kmart at 5561 Overseas Highway placed rolls of various Florida Lottery scratch-off tickets inside the secured "cash office" Sept. 7, at which time the store was already closed for Hurricane Irma.
The manager said the tickets didn't fit in the safe so he placed them in a shopping cart and covered them with a blue tarp.
Deputies said the store was closed that day and remained closed through Sept. 16.
Authorities said the tickets remained in the secured officer during that time frame and the only people with access to the office were employees.
According to an arrest warrant, a construction company was in the office Sept. 24 to replace some drywall.
Deputies said the cart was pushed over to an adjacent room that employees only had access to.
The manager told deputies that he was preparing to put the tickets back on the floor Oct. 4 when he noticed 113 various scratch-offs were missing.
The manager watched the surveillance video but didn't see anyone taking the tickets.
However, authorities said the surveillance camera was "locked" and could not be viewed on Sept. 24 when the tickets were moved.
Deputies said 20 winning tickets were cashed out at various stores in the Florida Keys.
The manager retrieved surveillance video from some of the stores and identified the suspect as Joseph, who was a Kmart employee.
Detectives said Joseph denied stealing the tickets, and said that he cashed lottery tickets on behalf of a Kmart customer who came into the store after the storm and needed the services of Western Union to get money.
He said Kmart's Western Union service was down, as was their lottery service, so he offered to take some of her winning lottery tickets to the nearest available place, authorities said.
Deputies said Joseph disconnected his phone after speaking with the detective and did not return any future calls.
Authorities said Joseph now lives and works in South Carolina.