TAMPA — It was a gamble that Paul Johnson lost.
At a quarter to 8 a.m., Johnson, 21, walked into an East Hillsborough convenience store and asked for $200 in scratch-off lottery tickets.
When the clerk set the stack on the counter, Johnson grabbed them and ran, Hillsborough County Sheriff's Deputies say.
An hour later, he walked into a Citgo convenience store about 5 miles away and again asked for $200 in tickets. This time, when he fled, deputies say, a witness was able to jot down the tag number of the maroon Toyota Avalon waiting for Johnson in the parking lot.
A half-hour later, Johnson, who lives in Winter Haven, took $300 in tickets from a nearby Hess Express store.
Minutes later, he was in a RaceTrac station in Plant City, cashing in one of the stolen tickets, deputies say.
How do deputies know this? The problem with robbing convenience stores is that most have surveillance cameras.
Detectives identified Johnson as their suspect, saying he stole the lottery tickets on March 9. He was arrested Wednesday on charges of grand theft and dealing in stolen property.
He was released on $2,000 bail.