'Traveling vending machine bandits' face charges in La.; accused in crimes across US

HAMMOND, LA (WAFB) - Two men from the Northeast are accused of a rash of vending machine break-ins, including some in south Louisiana.

The Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office reported James Johns Jr., 38, of Adrian, PA, and Louis Alberti, 54, of New Castle, PA, were returned to the Bayou State on Monday to be charged.

Sheriff Daniel Edwards said the pair was arrested in Pennsylvania by the US Marshal's Office in April. Investigators said the two men are suspected in "countless" break-ins of coin-operated vending machines throughout several states.

According to TPSO, the "traveling vending machine bandits" were caught on surveillance video in October breaking into vending machines at the Bedico Supermarket on LA 22 in Ponchatoula and the Loranger Supermarket on LA 40 in Loranger. Officials said they are also accused of burglarizing machines again in December and January.

Detectives said they learned the men, who they described as "professional traveling thieves," would travel from Pennsylvania, down the East Coast, and across the Gulf Coast committing burglaries and thefts.

TPSO reported they are each charged with at least 20 counts of burglary. It is believed they got away with more than $25,000.

Bond for Johns is set at $450,000, while Alberti's bond is $300,000.

Officials added Alberti was also charged with an active warrant from North Carolina related to similar charges from May 2017.

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