Winning scratch-off ticket leads to arrest in Smith County car thefts

Taz Marshall Whittemore
Taz Marshall Whittemore(Smith County Jail)
Published: Sep. 27, 2022 at 12:07 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 27, 2022 at 12:08 PM CDT

SMITH COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - An alleged car thief may have found a winning scratch-off ticket in a truck, but his luck stopped there.

According to an arrest affidavit, in July 2021, Smith County investigators tracked a winning Texas Lottery scratch-off found in one of four vehicles reported stolen from European Automotive Repair in Tyler. The ticket’s winnings were redeemed from a Lindale area 7-Eleven store where investigators say they observed, via surveillance footage, Taz Marshall Whittemore arriving in a black 2014 Chevrolet Silverado pickup. Whittemore and another defendant also were allegedly observed in the Silverado at a Lindale Walmart store earlier that same day.

The affidavit states Whittemore, 28, of Tyler, was arrested in Rusk County on July 21, 2021 on several outstanding warrants as well as on-site charges. Upon learning of his arrest, Smith County investigators spoke with him at the Rusk County Jail, at which point he allegedly confessed to stealing the four vehicles. In addition to the Silverado, the vehicles included a 2007 Mercedes-Benz 320ML SUV, a silver BMW 745 sedan and a 2003 Toyota 4Runner. The four vehicles represented a collective value of $46,000. Investigators said they found three of the four vehicles in the woods about a half-mile from the repair shop where they were stolen.

Whittemore was charged with theft of property =>$30,000 <=$150,000, a third degree felony. Smith County Jail records show Whittemore is also charged with multiple unrelated counts of theft of property.