Arrest of 13 teens solves 66 auto burglaries

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 31, 2009


LAPLACE — St. John sheriff’s deputies arrested 13 teenagers who were allegedly involved in a string of 70 car burglaries in various LaPlace neighborhoods over the past three months, said authorities at a press conference Thursday.

Chief Deputy Harold Klibert said the teens, who range in age from 15 to 19, were targeting unlocked vehicles parked in driveways and taking anything they could immediately get their hands on. Klibert said the teens were not damaging the vehicles they targeted.

Most of the items stolen were small electronics, such as GPS devices, cell phones, video cameras and MP3 players. They also took watches, credit cards, binoculars, tools and pellet guns. Sheriff Wayne Jones said now that arrests have been made, investigators have been able to retrieve over $1,000 worth of stolen goods from the homes of some of the suspects.

Detectives said they are still trying to determine the full scope of the burglaries. Capt. Dane Clement, public information officer for the Sheriff’s Office, said area residents have reported 558 items stolen, including three handguns, 100 rounds of ammunition, 286 CDs, and about $470 in cash.

Klibert said the 13 teenagers, who were arrested over the past three weeks, were likely responsible for about 66 of the 70 car burglaries. Investigators said the suspects worked in three separate groups that acted independently of one another.

The burglaries began in May, but Klibert said the bulk of the incidents have occurred within the last three weeks. He said the suspects, who did not live in the neighborhoods they were targeting, were becoming “more comfortable” with their surroundings as time went on.

Deputies arrested Chavez Jackson, 18, of 1500 Cartier Drive, LaPlace; Chad Wilson, 17, of 1508 Van Arpel Drive, LaPlace; Corky Henderson Jr., 18, of 16 Grigio Loop, LaPlace; Joseph Triggs, 19, of 147 Tammy Drive, LaPlace; Joshua Johnson, 18, of 45 Derek Lane, LaPlace; Anthony McKinnis, 18, of Kenner; Kyle Vicknair, 18, of LaPlace; Kayce Fruchtnicht, 17, of 104 Devon Drive, LaPlace; and Katelyn Degrury, 17, of 18180 River Road, Montz. Also arrested were three 15-year-old boys from LaPlace and one 15-year-old girl from River Ridge. The names were not released because they are juveniles.

Jones said the investigation is still very active and more arrests may be forthcoming. He said the teens arrested have been cooperative with the investigation.

“Most of these kids are first-time offenders who have never committed a crime,” Jones said. “I can only hope that this arrest may scare them straight.”

Klibert said investigators do not believe any of the teenagers arrested in LaPlace were involved in any of the recent three dozen car burglaries in St. Charles Parish.

Jones said the investigation was aided by residents in the community who went out of their way to report suspicious activity in their neighborhoods. Detectives said one homeowner even provided surveillance footage from his home that captured a suspicious white vehicle in one of the neighborhoods.

Jones said he created a task force of deputies that began patrolling the neighborhoods last week. He said his men starting making arrests July 24.

“One night our guys managed to catch one group in the act,” Jones said. “They did a great job of rounding up the suspects rather quickly.”

Klibert said authorities issued six search warrants of some of the suspects’ homes and recovered stolen property at three locations. He said in one search, involving the home of Chavez Jackson, investigators recovered a .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun that was reported stolen from a vehicle.

Jackson was arrested Tuesday and booked with possession of a stolen firearm, carrying a concealed weapon and 15 counts of simple burglary. He is being held at the Sherman Walker Correctional Facility in LaPlace on an $82,500 bond, Clement said.

Detectives believe Jackson was working with Wilson, who was also arrested Tuesday and booked with 14 counts of simple burglary, and one of the 15-year-old boys arrested Monday. Klibert said that group was responsible for burglaries in the LaPlace Park and Sugar Ridge subdivisions.

Henderson, Triggs and Johnson were arrested on July 24 and booked with principle to simple burglary and contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile. Klibert said that group worked with McKinnis and one of the 15-year-old boys to commit burglaries in the Ridgewood and Sandpiper areas.

The third group, which included Vicknair, Fruchtnicht and Degrury, worked with the third juvenile boy and the 15-year-old girl from River Ridge. Klibert said they are responsible for burglaries in the Riverlands subdivision, the Links subdivision, St. Andrews Estates and on Oak Point Drive.