Scratch, win, run: Italian cops seek man who snatched ticket

ROME (AP) — Italian police on Saturday were hunting for a Naples tobacco shop owner who allegedly ran off on a motor scooter with a customer’s “scratch and win” game card, which had clinched the top prize of 500,000 euros ($580,000), Italian news reports said.

A day earlier, a woman in her late 60s had purchased two of the highly popular game cards at her local shop in a working-class neighborhood of the southern port city. The first card was a loser. But when she scratched the second one, she saw to her amazement it was the big win, Italian media said.

The customer handed it to a shop employee to doublecheck. That employee in turn passed it to one of the smoke shop’s owners for a final check. Instead, news reports said, he held on to it, grabbed his helmet, hopped on the scooter and raced away with the game card, according to the reports.

Carabinieri police who were conducting the search said they weren’t authorized to talk about the ongoing investigation.

To prevent the alleged thief from cashing in, authorities at the Italian tax office which runs the “scratch and win” operation froze the entire block of numbers of cards that had been distributed to the tobacco shop.

The unlucky winner wasn’t identified in news reports.

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