BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A man and woman are behind bars after they allegedly stole hundreds of packs of cigarettes from multiple stores in at least three parishes, officials say.
"There's certainly a black market for cigarettes," Major Brian Doucet, Chief Detective for the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office, said. "If you look at the price of cigarettes, you can see why."
Brannon Blake Latil, 32, was arrested by the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office on Wednesday, April 23 at roughly 1:30 p.m. However, this investigation started in Livingston Parish.
"During the past several weeks a male and female had been involved in committing numerous cigarette thefts in East Baton Rouge and Livingston Parish," a deputy noted in a probable cause report. "The same description was given on the male suspect in each incident."
The physical description of the suspect wasn't the only match. There's a distinct pattern to each crime. It was so unique that investigators were able to connect all of the cases.
"He certainly has a distinct pattern," Major Doucet said. "In our case, he went into one of our convenience stores on LA 415 and asked the clerk for four cartons of different brands of cigarettes. When the clerk rang the items up, he went around the store and collected more items. He brought that to the counter and while the clerk was ringing those items up, he grabbed the cigarettes and ran off with them. He then got into a black car and took off."
The Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office identified Latil as the man they were looking for and warrants were issued for his arrest. After an investigation was launched in Baton Rouge, a B.O.L.O. (be on the lookout) for Latil and the black 2011 Ford Fiesta driven by the female suspect, later identified as Heather Smith, 36.
"[Latil] did admit to stealing the cigarettes on April 22, 2014 at Hubbs Petroleum…[He] stated that [Smith] was driving him during this incident and…they only wanted to steal cigarettes to sell for money."
The clerk who reported the Baton Rouge theft to deputies claims Latil produced a handgun during the incident. Latil, however, refuted the claim during questioning with the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office. The West Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office reports that no handgun was used in either of the cases its investigation.
Latil and Smith were both arrested and booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison. They are both charged with armed robbery and are each being held in lieu of a $75,000.
Officials say additional charges are pending. The exact number of cases has yet to be determined.