A tobacconist accused of fleeing with a customer’s €500,000-winning scratch card has been arrested in Rome, as he attempted to board a flight to Spain, police said on Monday.
The man, who has not been named by police, made headlines in the Italian press for several days after allegedly making off with the ticket, which a 70-year-old woman had brought to his shop to be validated.
Investigators say that after stealing the ticket at his store in Naples, he went to the town of Latina, in between Naples and Rome, to deposit the ticket in a bank so he could cash it in later on.
He was stopped by border police at Rome-Fiumicino airport on Sunday as he attempted to board a flight to the Canary Islands in Spain.
However he didn’t have the winning ticket on him, and he was not kept in detention.
The public prosecutor in Italy has opened an investigation and a court ordered the return of the stolen ticket.
The theft allegedly occurred on Friday, when he drove off on his scooter after the customer asked a shop worker to verify the win.
To stop anyone from illegally cashing in, Italy's customs agency ordered the freezing of the entire block of card numbers that had been distributed to the tobacco shop.