AP NEWS

Along with fans, Super Bowl attracted fraudsters, pickpockets, pranksters

February 6, 2018 GMT

Like any other mega-sporting event, the Super Bowl had its seamier side.

Minneapolis police took reports from nearly two dozen people who bought counterfeit tickets for the game, including a 69-year-old Vadnais Heights man who showed up to the game only to discover that the two tickets he bought off Craigslist for $1,500 were fake. In another case, two Texas men bought knockoff tickets, which authorities later determined had been stolen from the Seattle Seahawks, according to a police report.

A 37-year-old Chicago man paid $1,500 for a ticket for Section 310, Row 5 from someone at the corner of 4th Street and Chicago Avenue. But when he tried to enter the stadium, he was informed that the ticket was not real, police said. The seller was never found.

Pickpockets were also busy.

A Medford, Mass. man told police that he was walking through the concourse, between sections 142 and 143, when another man stopped abruptly in front of him, distracting him while an accomplice fished his wallet out of his back pocket. The man told officers that the thieves took about $5,000 cash.

Before the game, an Ohio man was walking to U.S. Bank Stadium when a thief snatched his game ticket, which was hanging from a lanyard, and took off running, police said. It happened so quickly that the 57-year-old victim didnt have a chance to react or get a good look at the suspect, according to police. Ticket agents printed the man a new ticket.

A Long Island, N.Y. man, 52, was standing in line for the bathroom when he felt someone reach into front left pants pocket. Moments later, he realized that his money clip was gone and with it $518, mostly in $2 bills.

Police said that many of the cases may have been captured on surveillance cameras inside the stadium.

Before the game, law enforcement circulated photos of several notorious gate-crashers to officers working the game. By about halftime, at least three of the men had been arrested, a police source said, either while trying to sneak into the stadium or once already inside.

Police say one of the men, Vitaly Zdorovetskiy, a YouTube prankster with millions of social media followers, was booked into the Hennepin County jail on suspicion of obstructing justice for tussling with a federal agent after he was stopped.

Three people who were with him were turned away at the gate.

Zdorovetskiy remains held in jail without bail, online records show.

The 25-year-old Los Angeleno has found a massive online following for his antics. In 2014, he managed to sneak past security and run onto the field at the World Cup final in Rio de Janeiro with the words natural born prankster scrawled across his bare chest, before being corralled by stadium guards. Videos of Zdorovetskiy streaking at last years World Series and running onto the court during Game 4 of the 2016 NBA Finals have racked up millions of views on YouTube.

A Minneapolis police spokeswoman said the department was pleased with how things turned out.

No major incidents were reported, which officials attributed to the massive security operation, said to dwarf any other in Minneapolis history.

Libor Jany 612-673-4064 Twitter:@StribJany