Police search for gumball machine thief

The Clewiston Police Department is currently investigating the thefts of several gumball machines from local businesses. One of those thefts could possibly have taken place at the Clewiston station itself.

According to an offense report released by the department, the owner of the now inactive J Pro Systems Inc., which owns and operates gumball machines at several business throughout the city, alerted police of the possible thefts early last month.

The owner, Timothy Ricci, said gumball machines could have been stolen from at least three local businesses, including Star Food Mart, Feathers Dry Cleaners and the Clewiston Police Department, over a six month period.

The owner of Star Food Mart reportedly told police that someone had picked up seven machines from his store sometime last year, but he did not know who the person was. The seven machines were valued by Ricci at over $1,200.

Ricci reportedly told officers he believed three machines were taken from Feathers Dry Cleaners, but was unavailable to confirm how many, if any, were taken from the police station.

More than three weeks after the initial complaint, an officer reportedly discovered several broken gumball machines with the letters “JPS” (J Pro Systems) engraved on the pieces behind the Executive Royal Inn.

The officer had reportedly been chasing several juveniles seen out after curfew at the Sweetest Town Playgrouon on July 28. Following one of the juveniles into the alleyway behind the inn, the officer saw the machines in pieces inside two Walmart shopping carts.

The officer collected a total of 77 pieces of gumball machines from the inn’s property.

The owner of the inn reportedly told police that the broken machines belonged to someone staying in one of the rooms, but that the individual had gone to the hospital several days earlier and had not yet returned to pay for his stay.

The investigation is still ongoing and no arrests have been made in the case.

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