Former $500,000 lottery winners charged in 5-county burglary spree

Posted at 6:11 AM, Sep 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-04 07:11:02-04

Bay County, MI (WJRT) -- About three years after they won a $500,000 lottery jackpot, a Bay County couple is accused of several home invasions across five counties.

These break-ins have been happening over the past several weeks. Police set up a task force, which led to the arrests of 28-year- old Stephanie Harvell and 29-year-old Mitchell Arnswald

“I know they been into five different counties as well, but in Bay County we have had about 13 home invasions done by these individuals we believe,” said Bay County Sheriff Troy Cunningham.

Investigators believe Harvell and Arnswald have been breaking into homes in Bay, Tuscola, Midland, Saginaw and Arenac counties. Cunningham said the couple had an off-the-wall answer if a homeowner stopped them.

“One of the things this crew was doing is, when they would stop, if they were discovered by somebody at the residence, they would say they were either looking for a dog,” he said. “I believe one time they said something about looking for some kids clothing.”

The couple won $500,000 in 2016 playing the Michigan Lottery's Hot Ticket game. Harvell told the lottery then that she her husband, Arnswald, had been living paycheck to paycheck and she bought the scratch-off ticket the same day she had received an eviction notice.

Police are not sure what they did with their prize winnings. They were arrested last Thursday after another suspected home invasion in Bay County's Merritt Township.

“Lady got home and discovered it. That went over the air and one of our cars was in the area and spotted the car at the Meijer in Hampton Township,” Cunningham said.

Police questioned the couple after a traffic stop, where they had items from the Merritt Township break-in. Some property taken in the other home invasions were also found.

Cunningham said Harvell and Arnswald possibly were planning other home invasions

“They came out of Meijer. In the bags, a couple of crow bars and some rubber gloves,” Cunningham said.

Both Harvell and Arnswald face charges of second-degree home invasion and possession of burglary tools.

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