Update: Wife, husband arrested for LaPlace tornado looting

Published 5:08 pm Monday, March 28, 2016

LAPLACE — A Gonzales woman told authorities she did not know it was stealing to remove items from tornado-damaged homes, according to the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office, but that claim didn’t prevent her and her husband from being arrested.

Desiree Coleman, 21, and Jonah Coleman, 22, are being held locally for looting following their arrests last week in LaPlace.

Desiree Coleman

Desiree Coleman

St. John deputies responded Friday to a residence in the 100 block of Chartres Court in LaPlace after a report of items being removed without permission.

Jonah Coleman

Jonah Coleman

Sheriff Mike Tregre said the homeowner told deputies Desiree Coleman and her husband removed multiple items from her residence without permission.

The homeowner told deputies Desiree Coleman was at her residence that afternoon on behalf of an insurance company assessing damaged sustained during the recent tornado.

The victim said a neighbor called her around 8:20 p.m. Friday, telling her two people were removing things from her house. The homeowner arrived, finding Desiree Coleman with her husband.

Tregre said Desiree Coleman told deputies she did not think removing the items was stealing since they would be thrown away.

“Coleman stated that her husband had no idea that the items were not to be removed,” Tregre said. “She told her husband that the homeowner gave her the items. At the time of the report, not all the household items had been recovered.”

Sgt. Dane Clement said authorities confirmed Desiree Coleman is a contractor with an insurance company, adding authorities are not releasing the name of the insurance company.

He could not confirm whether the company had been notified of the arrests.

Clement said Coleman and her husband stole household items, adding some have not been recovered because authorities believe the suspects left the residence with the items and came back for more. Authorities said items stolen included dressers, bar stools, a mattress, TV, home decor, tackle boxes, shower curtains, umbrella holder and umbrella, battery charger, sander and vehicle buffer.

Even though the wife took the blame, the husband is still facing a criminal charge.

“Investigators felt that the charges were appropriate for both parties arrested,” Clement said.

Outside of last week’s arrests, Clement said looting has not been a problem since the tornado struck Feb. 23.

“There have been no reports of looting,” he said.

Desiree Coleman and Jonah Coleman were booked with looting. They remain in custody as of Tuesday morning in lieu of $15,000 bonds.

Anyone with information regarding this incident is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office TIPS line at 985-359-TIPS or Crimestoppers at 504-822-1111.

Residents can also submit tips at stjohnsheriff.org/submitatip.php.