Teenage suspects use cold weather for car theft ring in Ascension Parish

Christopher Heard (left) and Deontre Joseph (right) (Source: Gonzales PD)
Christopher Heard (left) and Deontre Joseph (right) (Source: Gonzales PD)

ASCENSION PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Four teenagers in Ascension Parish, including two juveniles, have been arrested for a rash of car thefts. Approximately six vehicles were stolen within the Gonzales city limits.

It happened between December 16th and January 7th. Authorities said they were using the cold weather to find easy targets.

"There is nothing worse than waking up on a cold morning, starting your engine to defrost the windshield, and thinking you are safe to go back inside of your warm home, only to return five or ten minutes later and discover your vehicle gone," said spokesman Sgt. Steven Nethken of the Gonzales Police Department.

Two 17-year-old Gonzales residents, Christopher Heard and Deontre Joseph, were taken into custody along with two 16-year-old suspects whose names are being withheld because they are underage.

According to Gonzales officials, the teenage suspects would ride out between midnight and 5:00 a.m., searching for vehicles to rob or steal. They allegedly targeted cars with keys left in them by the owners, unlocked cars, or vehicles left running to warm or windshields to defrost.

"I hope that this serves as a way to raise the awareness of all City of Gonzales and Ascension Parish residents of this kind of activity, in an attempt to deter the public from practicing this kind of behavior. Ultimately, this behavior may lead to the innocent becoming victimized," said Nethken.

Authorities say they are currently investigating other car thefts outside the city limits which may also be connected to these suspects.

Nethken also advised, "Never leave your keys in your vehicle or leave your vehicle unlocked, as that serves to only invite heartache."

Police were able to recover the majority of the stolen vehicles, but they report that the cars were intentionally damaged.

Heard is being charged with possession of stolen things and resisting arrest. Joseph is charged with 2 counts of theft of a motor vehicle, 2 counts of principal to theft of a motor vehicle, possession of stolen things, damage to property, and attempted burglary of a vehicle.

The remaining juveniles are facing accumulated charges of 4 counts of theft, 1 count of possession of stolen things, 1 count of principal theft and resisting arrest.

Nethken said other charges are expected to follow after some forensic evidence is processed by the Louisiana State Police crime lab.

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