Stolen lottery tickets help deputies solve series of burglaries

Deputies say suspects linked to five burglaries

Stolen lottery tickets help deputies solve series of burglaries
Juanita Fassler, left, and Joseph Smith have been arrested in connection with a series of burglaries. (Source: Polk County Sheriff's Office)

POLK COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Two people have been arrested after cashing in stolen lottery tickets - a move which helped officials link them to a series of burglaries.

Joseph Smith, 31, and Juanita Fassler, both of Livingston, have been arrested in connection with the case. Smith is charged with three counts of burglary of a building and Fassler is charged with three counts of burglary of a building and one count of manufacturing and delivery of a controlled substance.

Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputies began investigating the case following a Jan. 14 burglary at the Sandy Creek Marina Store.

The suspects entered the building through the roof and stole lottery tickets, cigarettes and cash, according to the sheriff’s office.

A detective tracked the stolen tickets and discovered the winning tickets were cashed at stores in Shepherd, Cleveland and Splendora. Investigators traveled to the locations and gathered surveillance video of the suspects.

“The suspect was identified as 31 year old Joseph Smith of Livingston, and the suspect vehicle was also identified as belonging to Juanita Fassler of Livingston,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.

Deputies later located Fassler’s vehicle and searched it. Inside, they found evidence linking Fassler and Smith to the Sandy Creek Marina Store burglary.

Investigators also learned that Smith and Fassler are married and live together. They then obtained search warrants for the couple’s home.

Inside the home, police found evidence linking the two to a burglary of a fireworks stand on FM 350, a burglary at the Gokey Bowling Alley in Goodrich, a burglary at the Meditrim Office in the City of Livingston and a burglary at the Smoke Shop in Leggett.

To provide information on the case, contact Detectives David Mitchell and David Sottosanti at 936-327-6810.

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