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Looters in April riots made off with scratch-off tickets, but aren't necessarily winners

As city and state officials tally the toll from rioting and looting in Baltimore in April, Maryland Lottery officials are also accounting for losses.

Looters not only targeted pharmacies and corner stores, they also stole thousands of scratch-off tickets, said Carole Everett, spokeswoman for the Maryland Lottery.

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The tickets are worth tens of thousands of dollars, she said, but culprits can't necessarily cash in winning tickets.

When retailers report the theft of scratch-off tickets and can identify the "book number," the lottery agency can put a block on those tickets so winners can't cash in.

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"It's incumbent on the retailer to tell us immediately that they were broken into, so we can look up their inventory and make sure no one can cash the tickets," she said.

About 40 retailers reported their lottery tickets were stolen in the riots, sparked by the death of Freddie Gray after suffering a severe spinal cord injury in police custody. In addition, 30 red lottery ticket terminals were destroyed, as were two "player activated terminals," free-standing, self-service machines where consumers can purchase tickets.

Stores get a 5.5 percent commission on every ticket they sell, and a 3 percent commission on anything they cash out.

Lottery staff continue to investigate the thefts.

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