POTTSVILLE, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A former Rite Aid employee is accused of allegedly stealing over $34,000 in PA lottery tickets and being in possession of drugs.

According to the Pottsville Bureau of Police on Wednesday, March 22 around 12:38 p.m., officers responded to Rite-aid on South Centre Street for a reported theft.

Police say further investigation revealed the suspected thief was an employee identified as Shelly Ann Abell, 40, of Pottsville, and she was still at the Rite Aid.

Officers say upon arrival, police say they spoke with Richard Pitcavage, the Rite Aid Regional Asset Protection Leader. Pitcavage told police that since November 2022, Abell had stolen $34,277 in PA lottery tickets.

According to police, Pitcavage showed officers, surveillance video of Abell going into the lottery machine, removing several lottery tickets, and hiding them in her clothing. Pitcavage told police he got a written statement from Abell admitting to taking the tickets and the amounts which were on the “PA Lottery Shortages Report” from November 2022 to March of 2023, totaling $34,277.

According to an affidavit, Pitcavage explained to officers that Abell would take the tickets from the top of the machine because they were high in value, take them to the lottery wand at the other register, and activate the entire pack of tickets.

Police say Abell would then return to the lottery machine and put a partial pack of tickets back in the machine and kept the remaining tickets in her clothing.

As the affidavit reads, Abell was taken into custody and read her Miranda rights. Police say Abell admitted to taking the PA Lottery tickets and cashing the winners in at several different locations around town, although she would not admit to any amounts or the dates they were cashed.

According to law enforcement, a search of Abell’s purse when she was taken into custody revealed a black and white zipper pouch containing two baggies with a crystal substance, which tested positive for methamphetamine, and a resealable baggie containing one blue pill identified as Alprazolam, a generic form of Xanax.

Abell was arraigned and charged with felony counts of theft by unlawful taking-movable property, unlawful use of a computer, and receiving stolen property, as well as two misdemeanor counts of possession of a controlled substance by a person not registered to and use/possession of drug paraphernalia.

Abell was released on $1000 cash bail and has a preliminary hearing scheduled for Monday, April 24 at 10:30 a.m.