Trio busted in lottery ticket, cigarette theft ring

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Three people are charged in an elaborate theft ring involving tens of thousands of dollars worth of lottery tickets and cigarettes.

Police say the thieves broke into businesses across the city, smashing their way inside with sledgehammers.

For three weeks, investigators say Domenique Jones, 22, April McKinney, 35, and her daughter, Breana Sims, 20, targeted one business after another.

The burglary spree began in early September at a Valero gas station on Prescott Road.

According to court records, Jones and two other men broke in to four convenience stores and a Subway restaurant in the dark of night.

“Yea, they broke in and they steal everything from them," said Ali Hajran, who owns a shop near the Valero.

Police say the suspects took the stolen merchandise to McKinney’s home, where Sims helped separate cigarettes and scratch lottery tickets.

Court documents show McKinney then drove around the city cashing out the scratch-offs before the store owner could cancel them.

“When you call the lottery ticket to give them the number, they lock it," Hajran said.

The trio is accused of pulling the same stunt less than two weeks ago at an Express Mart on Knight Arnold Road, again the next day at a Marathon on Neely Road and two days after that at an Exxon on Quince Road.

Investigators say they also broke into a Subway down the street, causing thousands of dollars in damage, but ultimately leaving empty-handed.

Hajran says his store has been broken into at least five times. In each case, the suspects covered their faces and smashed through cinder block walls to get inside.

“One time from here behind the counter, and then broke in through the bathroom like three, four times," he said.

Hajran has since installed motion detectors on the walls.

“When they hit the wall, the alarm goes off," he said.

In all, police say the suspects got away with nearly $30,000 worth of lottery tickets, cigars and cigarettes.

All three are charged with multiple felonies, including burglary and theft. McKinney and her daughter are also charged with forging lottery tickets.

The suspects will be in court this week.

WREG is not naming the other two men police say were involved because no charges have been filed against them.

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