Garner police believe attempted break-ins at two different sweepstakes parlors on July 5 are connected to another in Raleigh and a prior break-in at one of the Garner locations two weeks prior.
Security cameras showed two suspects broke into King’s Sweepstakes on June 23. Between 4 and 5 a.m. on Friday, July 5, a pair believed to be the same two suspects tried to break into King’s Sweepstakes again, this time failing to gain entry after setting off the alarm and being caught on camera at 507 Plaza Circle.
During the same hour, the same two suspects are believed to have broken into Sweepstakes Service at 1317 Fifth Avenue. The suspects forced their way inside and set off an alarm, but nothing was stolen so it remains an attempted break-in, Garner police spokesman Lt. Chris Clayton said.
“Specifically why they’re targeting sweepstakes? I don’t know,” Clayton said after noting that smaller businesses tend to deal more in cash.
In addition, Clayton said another break-in at a sweepstakes location in Raleigh also is connected to the suspects. Garner police has been in contact with Raleigh police about the string of break-ins.
The sweepstakes parlors had been in the news recently because of courts battles over their legality in the face of a 2010 law banning them.
King’s Sweepstakes filed a lawsuit May 23 against the police claiming they illegally prevented them from conducting legal business.
Clayton noted that the police did not direct the businesses to close. They simply advised them that the district attorney had decided such business ran afoul of the law, and that if the D.A. decided to prosecute, police would take action.
“No one told them to close,” Clayton said, adding that they have since re-opened.
One letter from police to Nil Entertainment (which runs King’s), with a letter from the Wake County district attorney attached, said: “In cooperation with the District Attorney’s Office we will begin investigation and enforcement as of April 1, 2013 if violations are brought to our attention.
No action has been taken against the business, which, like many, claim to be in compliance with the law. The lawsuit maintains its primary business is selling Internet time. The storefront itself is plastered with sweepstakes promotion materials and the sign above it includes a dollar sign.
The law doesn’t require money to be risked. It makes it illegal to operate an electronic device to conduct or promote a sweepstakes using an “entertaining display.” It defines “sweepstakes” as “any game, advertising scheme or plan, or other promotion which, with or without payment” someone could win a prize based on chance.
Some companies have modified their software to eliminate the “entertaining display” aspect, removing the “instant reveal” of whether a prize had been won. A court case earlier this year ruled against sweepstakes owners and the Wake County district attorney advised Garner police that such cafes were illegal.