Sheriff’s Office: Duo schemed for two years to return stolen goods using receipts they found in parking lots _lowres

April Parker, left, and Kevin Warren

The alleged scheme worked well for a while.

For two years, according to the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, April Parker and Kevin T. Warren staked out parking lots of big box stores across the parish, waiting for their golden tickets to drop from the hands of unassuming customers.

The duo, arrested Wednesday, are accused of scooping up receipts over the past two years. Tickets in hand, the two allegedly walked into a number of stores, stole various items off the shelves listed on the receipts and later returned the stolen items, using the receipts as proof of purchase and bagging the proceeds, the Sheriff’s Office said Thursday.

“This is something that appears to have been very organized and long-running,” Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said in a statement. “These individuals were scoping out parking lots, waiting for someone to leave a receipt, in order to steal from these merchants.”

The alleged theft operation came to deputies’ attention Tuesday when Parker, 37, essentially laid a trap for her own arrest.

Parker told sheriff’s deputies that she parked her Toyota Camry on Tuesday in the parking lot of Toys R Us at Siegen Marketplace. She said she left Warren, 48, in the car with the keys in the ignition, the engine running, and walked into the store.

When Parker came out, according to the Sheriff’s Office, the car and Warren were gone. She called authorities to report the theft of her Toyota.

At some point Wednesday, a deputy was alerted about the stolen car in her area. She pulled the Toyota over on Interstate 110 southbound near the Chippewa Street exit, said Casey Rayborn Hicks, a Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman.

A search of the vehicle turned up dozens of receipts — with dates from 2013 to this year — and more than 20 gift cards. Deputies also found diaries detailing the thefts and subsequent transactions, Hicks said.

Warren did not tell detectives why he drove away from the Toys R Us, Hicks said.

In an interview with investigators, Parker provided details about the duo’s operation to deputies.

Parker, no address available, was booked into Parish Prison on counts of organized retail theft and theft of receipts and universal product code labels. She also was booked on several outstanding warrants for traffic violations, booking records show.

Warren, 153 N. 17th St., Baton Rouge, was booked on counts of theft of a motor vehicle, organized retail theft and theft of receipts and universal product code labels.

Both remained jailed Thursday in lieu of bail. The bail amount for each wasn’t clear.

Follow Ben Wallace on Twitter, @_BenWallace.