It didn’t take long for law enforcement to track down one of New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s vehicles after it was taken from outside his house over the weekend.
The brief disappearance of the 2006 Jeep from South Robertson Street on Saturday brought the citywide concerns over New Orleans’ crime rate literally to the mayor’s door.
The Jeep, one of the Landrieu family’s personal vehicles, was reported missing about noon Saturday. The NOPD took down the information on the theft by phone and contacted LoJack to turn on the equipment that would allow it to be tracked down, according to an incident report on the theft.
That was enough to put Jefferson Parish Deputy Blake Hollifield on the trail of the Jeep, JPSO spokesman Col. John Fortunato said.
Hollifield had just come off a 12-hour shift and was heading home across the Crescent City Connection about 6:30 p.m. when the LoJack receiver in his patrol car picked up the signal, Fortunato said.
“It was through his persistence that the vehicle was recovered,” Fortunato said.
After calling in the information and learning the car was registered to Landrieu, he began following the signal, eventually ending up near the NOPD’s 2nd District station on Magazine Street.
The deputy checked in with his compatriots at the NOPD before heading back out on his own, finding the Jeep at Constance and Gen. Taylor streets about 7:30 p.m., Fortunato said. That’s about eight blocks away from the 2nd District station.
New Orleans police never received a signal from the vehicle, department spokesman Tyler Gamble said in an email Monday. He said he did not know why a JPSO unit received the alert while NOPD units did not.
The NOPD met up with Hollifield after the Jeep was located, Gamble said.
Officials with the Police Department and the Mayor’s Office were asked about rumors of the theft by The New Orleans Advocate on Saturday, but neither agency would confirm then that the car belonged to Landrieu.
The mayor expressed his thanks to both law enforcement agencies Monday.
“As you can imagine, this was a very frustrating experience for our family, but we are grateful for the good work of the NOPD and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office for finding and recovering the vehicle,” Landrieu said in an emailed statement.
But Police Association of New Orleans President Mike Glasser, a sharp critic of Landrieu’s handling of the department, said the whole incident suggested issues with staffing at the department. While he said it’s unclear why Hollifield picked up on the car’s signal and NOPD units did not, he said it suggests some sort of problem on the NOPD’s side.
The incident also provides an example of the widespread nature of crime in New Orleans and the need for more NOPD officers, said Glasser, referring to one of his organization’s chief concerns.
“This shows crime is not limited to a handful of people in the traditionally ‘bad areas,’ ” Glasser said. “Anybody in any part of town can be a victim, and ironically the victim in this case is the person screaming the loudest that crime is down. And while he admits there’s a staffing shortage, I think he underrates the importance of that.”
Follow Jeff Adelson on Twitter, @jadelson.