An Altoona woman's system for playing the lottery netted her more than $100,000, but her supposed lucky streak ended with her arrest on felony theft charges, Altoona police said.
Verna J. Barr, 45, of 515 S. Kettle St. was working part time at Thompson Pharmacy, 600 E. Chestnut Ave., when she began stealing Pennsylvania lottery tickets, according to police.
Barr stole the tickets to win money to help her 25-year-old son and also used winnings to fix up her house and take a vacation to Myrtle Beach, S.C., police said.
Barr allegedly punched up tickets for games such as Quinto, Big 4 and the Daily Number and stole scratch-off tickets while working at the pharmacy between May 2, 2011, and June 25, 2012, when an Altoona detective confronted Barr after a three-hour shift.
On that June 25 shift alone, police contend Barr stole 569 drawing tickets as well as an undisclosed number of scratch-off tickets worth a total of $3,541, according to Barr's arrest papers.
Altoona police were first made aware of the thefts in June after an internal probe into discrepancies between the amount of money coming in for lottery tickets versus how much the pharmacy was paying to the Pennsylvania Lottery, records show.
The pharmacy suspected Barr because the lottery terminals showed tickets were sold at a rate of 1.4 tickets per minute on shifts she worked, one of which was Friday evenings when the pharmacy was not typically very busy, police said.
Video surveillance from the pharmacy also showed Barr stealing scratch-off tickets and punching up tickets when no customers were present.
Thompson's lost $239,119.50 because of the theft, police said. Police said $41,070 of that amount was scratch-off tickets with the remaining $198,049.50 in tickets for drawing.
When confronted by police, Barr allegedly admitted to stealing the tickets and said she probably won about $101,000 from the stolen tickets, some of which were cashed at the store.
Thompson Pharmacy spokesman Rob Tyler praised the work of Altoona Detective Ashley Day in bringing charges against Barr.
The company is dealing with the financial loss, Tyler said.
"We're in fine shape," Tyler said. "It's not going to affect our day-to-day operations."
Barr was arraigned Wednesday before Magisterial District Judge Jeffrey P. Auker and released on $5,000 unsecured bail. Barr also waived her preliminary hearing.
An attempt to contact her attorney, Steven Passarello, for comment was not successful late Wednesday.
Mirror Staff Writer Greg Bock is at 946-7458.