NewsPinellas County


New surveillance footage shows thief stealing lottery tickets, battering Clearwater convenience store clerk

Police searching for man behind two known thefts
Posted at 5:13 PM, Sep 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-23 18:35:31-04

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Clearwater Police need your help to find an alleged lottery ticket thief. Investigators say the thief uses beer bottles to distract convenience store clerks in order to take off with lottery tickets.

ABC Action News obtained a never before seen video of the August attack and robbery against a 19-year-old clerk in Clearwater.

The video shows a white man walking in with a blue hat, polo and khakis. He looks like any other customer, but police warn this man is just pretending. He’s here for something very specific.

“After the door shut, I heard the bottles crash," said Max Rivera.

The store clerk is seeing the video of his attack for the first time. He says the alleged thief distracted him by dropping a case of beer inside the Bay Esplande Speedway.

At first, Rivera thought the man was impaired.

"...that someone was too drunk and broke a case," he laughed.

While Rivera is busy mopping, the man goes behind the counter and grabs a wad full of lottery tickets. When he tries to stop him the man slugs him.

“It was a pretty hard punch," said Rivera.

They exchange more punches and the man high-tails it out the door after a scuffle, throwing Rivera to the floor. The clerk closely follows after him. He's on the phone with police. A dispatcher tells him to stop for his own safety.

Rivera says the intense encounter keeps replaying in his head.

“Yeah, it shook me up," he said.

It turns out this guy has done it before. A camera captured him and his partner pulling the same stunt in Treasure Island.

“He must not care about who he’s doing it to because it really could have gone bad. Someone could have gotten hurt," said Rivera.

The clerk is not asking for an apology.

“I just hope he gets caught and he thinks about what he’s done and he actually changes,” Rivera said.

Take a good look at stills from the surveillance footage showing the unknown man. He's got a hummingbird tattoo on his left leg and a spiderweb on his left elbow. If he looks familiar, call police.