Gary McLarty may not be a millionaire, but he’s learned lottery tickets can bring all kinds of luck after using one to track down his stolen vehicle in Windsor, Canada.
The determined Windsorite was so angry when his Jeep was stolen – with a lottery ticket inside — he couldn’t sit and wait for police to find it.
He started investigating on his own, and called the Ontario Lottery and Gaming corporation. They told him where the crook had cashed his winning $10 ticket, and McLarty picked up the trail from there.
“If it wasn’t for OLG, I might not have got it back,” he said Friday. “More people should know what that ticket can do.”
McLarty, who manages a high-rise building in the east Riverside area, woke up New Year’s Day to discover his 2000 Jeep Cherokee had disappeared from its parking spot.
“I was very disappointed,” he said. “I don’t drink, but I questioned myself – did I go drinking?”
He called his insurance company and learned he didn’t have theft coverage. Never one discouraged by bad luck, McLarty later decided to continue his Daily Keno routine. Then it hit him.
“I left my winning ticket in the car,” he said.
He had already checked the numbers from the previous draw, and knew the ticket in his car was worth $10.
“I knew they were thieves, so probably not too smart either,” said McLarty. “I called OLG.”
Sarah Kiriliuk with OLG said the corporation has a process for recovering lost and stolen tickets.
“If they have all the information, the data checkpoints that we need to know, and can prove beyond a reasonable doubt they are the ones who own that ticket, then we can help them find a lost ticket,” said Kiriliuk.
She said the “retail complaints team,” which can retrieve detailed information about lottery ticket purchases, would have asked McLarty about his pattern of play. That includes the games and numbers he played, the time and place he bought the ticket and other “historical information.”
“Do you play every week, how many tickets do you play every week, how much money did you spend this time, how much money approximately do you spend in other weeks?” said Kiriliuk.
After ensuring McLarty was the rightful owner of the stolen ticket, OLG told him it had been cashed.
Someone had checked the ticket at Charron variety store on Whelpton Street, near Drouillard Road. Minutes later, the crooks cashed it in a Mac’s store on Ottawa Street.
“They’re driving around at two o’clock in the afternoon, so that’s pretty bold, and it’s also a day or two later,” said McLarty.
He figured the crooks might live in the area. On Thursday, he borrowed his friend’s car.
“I went to Charron variety,” said McLarty. “I asked them if they have video. They said they did.”
He asked the store clerk to keep the video for police. Then he took a ride to see if he could spot his Jeep.
“I got in my friend’s car, I pull up to Drouillard, and they pass me in my own truck,” said McLarty. “I’m mad, eh. My truck is very personal to me. I keep it up really good. So I’m looking to see if there’s any damage.”
There were two men in his Jeep. He started following them. They turned off Drouillard onto Ontario Street and stopped. The passenger got out at an apartment building with a case of beer. The Jeep continued on before pulling over again.
“I kept going like I never saw anything,” said McLarty. “I could see he was still watching me. I pulled around the block, I come back and he’s not even a couple steps out of the car. So now he’s really watching me.”
McLarty went to a nearby store and called police, then headed back to keep an eye on things. But he started worrying his Jeep would be gone before officers arrived.
“Sure enough, another guy comes out and jumps in my truck,” said McLarty. “Now I don’t have no choice. I gotta confront him. I didn’t want to block him off because I was in my friend’s car and I didn’t want it to get damaged. A lot of things go through your head. You’re mad. This guy’s got your car and he’s driving it like it’s his.”
He pulled up beside his stolen Jeep.
“I said ‘hey, that’s my car (expletive),’” said McLarty. “Then he just took off. He went like 50, 60 around the corner. I just thought somebody will die if I chase him. It’s not worth it.”
He went back to meet police. McLarty said officers later found the car abandoned at Langlois Avenue and Cataraqui Street. The ignition was punched out.
Sgt. Matthew D’Asti said police have a person of interest, but still haven’t gathered enough evidence to lay a charge.
“We’re waiting to see if there’s going to be any other results from the forensic examination of the vehicle,” said D’Asti.
McLarty said he’s just glad to get his Jeep back.
“I thought I was done,” he said. “I didn’t know if a chop shop got it, where it’s at, nothing. These guys, they don’t realize how much damage they do to some people. It’s not just the car.”