Port Allen and Erwinville experienced a rash of similar, but not connected, car burglaries in early January, according to the West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office.
“It’s different groups of kids all with the same motive,” West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office Chief of Operations Major Dale Simoneaux said.
Approximately 10 car burglaries occurred on Poydras Bayou Drive in Port Allen on Thursday, Jan. 4, according to the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office.
A traffic stop by the Baker Police Department on the evening of Thursday, Jan. 4 led to the arrest of Dernesha Coleman, 26 of Baton Rouge, Darren Butler, 17 of Baker, Jarrell Edwards of Baker, and a juvenile on charges of possession of stolen items according to WBRSO.
During the traffic stop, a gun reported stolen from the Poydras Bayou Drive area earlier in the day was found in the vehicle.
Edwards fled the scene but was found Monday, Jan. 8 through a combined effort of the U.S. Marshal Fugitive Task Force, Pointe Coupee Sheriff’s Office and West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office. Edwards led authorities on a three-day hunt. Three others were arrested by the task force for helping Edwards evade arrest, Simoneaux said.
Authorities recovered six stolen firearms from the vehicle. Two firearms were stolen from West Baton Rouge Parish and another two were linked to burglaries in Pointe Coupee Parish. The remaining two were confirmed stolen, but authorities are waiting on confirmation from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives of the rightful owners, Simoneaux said.
Less than one week later, on Wednesday, Jan. 10, four men were arrested and charged with multiple counts of vehicle burglary in Port Allen. A citizen called in a vehicle driving with its lights off on Bohne Road and Rebelle Lane around 4:30 a.m. which led to the arrest of Mckenzie Jones, 17 of New Roads, Trevonte Stevenson, 17 of New Roads, Paul Fox, 17 of Cottonport and Devontae Cannon, 18 of Baton Rouge.
The vehicle was stopped by WBRSO deputies and was full of items the men could not account for such as purses, wallets, phones, phone chargers and change, Simoneaux said.
The prompt arrest and return of stolen goods were only possible with the help of the citizen who called and reported the suspicious vehicle, Simoneaux said.
There is a trend of young people, none of whom are from inside the parish, going into residential areas and pulling on door handles to burgle unlocked vehicles Simoneaux said. The WBRSO urges all residents to lock the doors of their vehicles and call in any suspicious activity.
“If you see something, call us,” Simoneaux said. “We’re coming.”
Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Livingston and other surrounding jurisdictions are all experiencing a rash of vehicle burglaries Simoneaux said.
A new effort by the WBRSO, called Citizens Active Against Crimes, is a way citizens can assist local authorities in identifying criminals and solving crimes. Residents and businesses with surveillance cameras can join the database by providing their name, address and phone number. When a crime is reported, deputies search the database to find citizens and businesses with surveillance cameras in the area. With the full consent and the promise of anonymity, deputies will request to view or download footage helpful in identifying criminals or crimes. Participation in the database would not give WBRSO access to view, store or download any surveillance video without the owners’ permission Simoneaux said.
Citizens should lock their doors and be vigilant in reporting any suspicious activity. It takes a community to combat this sort of crime, Simoneaux said.
Citizens and businesses interested in being a part of Citizens Active Against Crime can contact Mindy at 225-382-5200 for more information and registration.