A shoplifter with a green thumb who allegedly stole garden supplies worth hundreds of dollars right under the nose of store employees, also tried her luck by filling out a raffle ticket at the store. Little did she know that ticket would provide a lucky break: for the cops.
Police said Elizabeth Geneveive Null, 20, was see on tape stealing from Anything Green Hydroponics in Penn Valley, Calif., on Friday. Before she left, she wrote her address and phone number on a raffle ticket for the store's upcoming party. That ticket, which would have made Null eligible for various expensive prizes, led cops right to her door a couple hours later.
Doug Jones, co-owner of the store, called police the same day as the thefts, as soon as he and his wife figured out what had happened. "They said, 'Do you know who she is?' and I said, 'Absolutely – I have her name, address and phone number right here!" he recalled.
Anything Green Hydroponics uses video surveillance, and even posts a large sign near the cash register notifying customers in red letters that they are being recorded on closed circuit television.
When Null came into the store on Friday, she spent nearly half an hour browsing items … and allegedly filling her handbag with them.
"She was really friendly and talkative – she was talking to us the whole time, kind of befriending us," Jones told ABCNews.com.
Jones knew Null's mother, who was a frequent customer, but he had never met her daughter, who said she had just moved to Nevada County from Las Vegas.
Null eventually left the store, saying she needed to call her mom. At that point she allegedly unloaded her loot, putting it in her car, and walked right back into the store.
She was on a roll, which may have been why she wanted to try her luck by filling out a raffle ticket at the store's checkout counter.
Surveillance video shows her filling out the ticket. "A little on the not-bright side, absolutely," Jones told ABC News Sacramento affiliate KXTV.
Null asked Jones about various products, including one called The Closer, which boosts plant nutrients in soil, and bat guano, a fertilizer. She eventually bought $20 worth of compost tea, before filling out the raffle ticket and taking off.
After she left, Jones looked up and found the bottle of Closer they had discussed wasn't there anymore. He started looking around for it, and that's when he noticed the tub of guano was missing. Jones' wife, Shela Claar, started reviewing their surveillance footage and found she had allegedly taken other items -- $300 worth of plant nutrients and chemicals.
"We just upgraded to more cameras around the store and it's definitely paying off," Claar told KXTV.
According to Jones, the store has been robbed three times in the past six months.
When police eventually showed up at Null's home, she would not allow them to search the house but did hand over two bottles of Fox Farm Tiger Bloom, a compost tea used to make soil more fertile.
She was charged with shoplifting and possession of stolen property and booked in jail, then released the same day. Attempts to reach her for comment weren't immediately successful.
If the police only had the surveillance video to rely on, their chances of finding her "would have been greatly reduced," according to Undersheriff Henry Serrano. "We would have had her picture, but … it's a small county with 100,000 people – that's still 100,000 people you have to sort through."
After getting out of jail, Null reportedly called Claar to apologize.
She "said she was sorry, her mom said that wasn't a smart idea what she did," Jones said. "She said she wanted to come back and pay for everything."
Claar's response? No, thank you. Neither Claar nor Jones want to see her in their store again.
They disqualified Null from the raffle for good measure.