Police ID suspect in robbery

BELPRE – The Belpre Police Department has identified the man arrested for the breaking and entering robbery of the Belpre Mart, 901 Main St., early Friday morning.

Chad Bledsoe, 28, 1010 Florence St. Apt. 1, Belpre, was arrested Friday evening on four felony counts, including breaking and entering, tampering with evidence, investing in criminal tools and grand theft, said Patrolman Kerry Nichols with the Belpre Police Department.

Bledsoe remained in custody in the Washington County Jail in Marietta on an undisclosed bond.

“The suspect lives in close proximity to the location of the crime and knows the store,” Nichols said.

Bledsoe was arrested after he attempted to cash in a winning lottery ticket he had stolen from the same store during the robbery overnight Thursday.

Belpre Mart owner Sunil Joshi said Friday afternoon that along with stealing cash, rolls of coin, a large amount of cigarettes and e-cigarettes, the suspect also took a number of unopened packs of lottery scratch-off tickets from the scene.

“The tickets weren’t activated, so we hoped he would try to cash the lottery tickets in and get caught because they were not activated to work,” Joshi said.

Following Bledsoe’s arrest, officers obtained and executed a search warrant at his home where they recovered evidence of the robbery as well as stolen property, Nichols said.

“He was initially arrested when he tried to cash the lottery tickets and we were able to bring him up on the felony charges after finding the items in his apartment to link him to the robbery,” Nichols said.

It is believed Bledsoe robbed the Belpre Mart on his own.

During the robbery, Bledsoe allegedly broke the glass out of the southside window behind the cash registers that face the ramp for Ohio 7/U.S. 50 and cut his left hand on the shards as he climbed into the building. He then damaged equipment for the convenience store’s Internet, credit card, telephone and security systems before he stole as much as $10,000 in cash and merchandise.

The suspect also cut the phone line to the store at the rear of the building.

After breaking the electronic equipment, the suspect used a key to open one of the cash registers, and pried the other one open, Belpre Police Sgt. T. Williams said. It was then he took cash and rolls of change from the registers.

Despite the suspect’s attempts to destroy the surveillance DVR and other electronics at the store, Belpre Police were able to reassemble the system and watch the video of the robbery, said Williams.

Bledsoe was arrested Friday evening after he attempted to cash in scratch-off lottery tickets that had been stolen from the store during the incident earlier in the day. He had entered the store and because the tickets had not been activated and reported stolen, they rang up as stolen.

The employee working at the store called Belpre Police and provided a suspect description, Williams said. Bledsoe had fled the scene and was discovered a few minutes later on a bicycle by Nichols. He was taken into custody and remained there as the search warrant was issued and executed, Nichols said.

Lottery tickets arrive at a store in packages, which are registered to the store to be selling them. This identifies the ticket as coming from the store, Williams said. A package of lottery tickets is not activated as usable until the store does so, just prior to setting that package out for sale, Williams said.

The stolen lottery ticket the suspect had attempted to cash in was found discarded in the dumpster behind the Belpre Mart, Williams said.

Nichols said a motive for the robbery was not known, but Bledsoe has shopped at the convenience store before.

“The funny thing is that (Bledsoe) was wanting to work for Belpre Mart,” Nichols said. “He had apparently asked about a job and instead did this.”