Scratch Ticket Leads to Armed Robbery Arrests
Bandit nabbed after girlfriend tries to cash stolen lottery ticket.
UPDATED 2 p.m.: -- Tewksbury Police have arrested two people in connection with a series of early morning armed robberies of Main Street businesses.
John Lipomi, 40, 343 Wilder Street, Lowell, was arrested at the residence at 475 Shawsheen St. at around 9:15 a.m.. He is charged with twice robbing the Shell Station at 1975 Main St., and then robbing the Dunkin' Donuts next door at 1973 Main St.
According to Tewksbury Police Chief Tim Sheehan, the first break in the case came when Nicole Sarakas, 40, of 475 Shawsheen St., cashed in a $500 scratch ticket that had been stolen in the Sept. 11 robbery of the Shell Station.
Sheehan said she cashed the ticket at Tewksbury Market, 160 Shawsheen St., later that same morning, but that it was not run through the lottery system until several days later (after the third robbery) and was flagged as stolen.
Sarakas has been charged with receiving more than $250 in stolen property and larceny over $250.
According to Sheehan, once Tewksbury Market was notified by Mass. Lottery officials that the ticket was stolen, the owners of the store notified Tewksbury Police. Winners of less than $600 do not have sign their tickets or provide their names, but a Tewksbury detective viewing footage from the surveillance cameras at the market recognized Sarakas from an earlier case.
"The identification of the female party as cashing a stolen lottery ticket wasn't enough for probable cause," said Sheehan. "She could have said she found it on the street."
What followed was several days of intense police investigation, during which time Lipomi was seen coming and going from the house through a window. Sheehan said it appears the relationship between Sarakas and Lipomi was being kept secret from the owner of the home, who was not home when Lipomi would enter.
Sheehan said Sarakas had some type of relationship with the owner of the home, though he would not specify the relationship nor identify the owner. It does not appear the owner was involved in any way with the robberies, said police.
"(Sarakas) had a private room in the home that she kept locked," said Sheehan. "(Lipomi) entered and exited through a window into that room."
The investigation provided police with enough for probable cause for a warrant to search the home and a vehicle on the property.
According to Sheehan, detectives seized an abundance of evidence, including cocaine and clothing allegedly worn during the robberies. He said police also seized a knife they believe could be the weapon used in the robberies.
Lipomi was charged with armed robbery while being masked, two counts of armed robbery, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and three counts of assault with a dangerous weapon.
According to Sheehan, Lipomi has a lengthy criminal record.
The three robberies followed a similar pattern and the suspect was described in the same way by all of the witnesses.
On Friday, Aug. 27, at around 2 a.m., the Shell Station was robbed by a man who entered the store through the back entrance brandishing a knife. He was described as a white male approximately 5 feet, 4 inches to 5 feet, 6 inches, medium build, who was wearing dark blue hooded sweatshirt and black running pants.
On Sept. 11, a man fitting that same description hit the Main Street Shell Station again, this time around 5:30 a.m. Surveillance footage from that robbery can be seen here.
Then on Tuesday, Sept. 14, the Dunkin Donuts was robbed by a man, with the same description, once again carrying a knife, between 5:30 and 6 a.m.