Metairie — A collection of New Orleans teenagers and young adults was arrested by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday after authorities say they committed nearly two dozen vehicle burglaries and auto thefts in the month of November alone.
Michael Harris, 17; Marvin Carter, 20; Mario Marrero, 18; and a 14-year-old boy were all booked with 22 counts of simple burglary in connection with a rash of incidents in Old Metairie throughout the month.
All of the suspects remain in custody. Col. John Fortunato, a sheriff’s spokesman, said they could be booked with additional charges and other individuals arrested.
Nearly all of the thefts involved unlocked vehicles, which have long been a source of frustration for law enforcement officials across the region.
Fortunato said the suspects would apparently walk through neighborhoods pulling on car doors and steal the contents of those vehicles that were unlocked.
The suspects also are suspected of burglarizing a State Police vehicle and stealing a handgun from it, although Fortunato said that vehicle was locked.
Deputies caught three of the young men about 3 a.m. in the 200 block of Rosewood Drive on Wednesday.
Deputies had been called out to the location after receiving reports of hooded men running in the area, Fortunato said. After a brief struggle, Carter, Harris and the juvenile were all arrested, while Marrero escaped.
Fortunato said that when police began canvassing the area, they discovered seven different vehicle burglaries on Rosewood Drive, Hollywood Drive, Ridgewod Drive and Metairie Court. When they began questioning Harris, he admitted to the burglaries and began giving investigators the names of the other suspects, including Marrero.
Police later discovered that the suspects dumped most of the loot from the burglaries on the ground as they tried to flee, Fortunato said.
While investigating those incidents, Detective Louis Frost Jr. remembered several vehicle burglaries that happened Monday and the theft of three different vehicles from the same area around that time, Fortunato said.
Detectives also linked a stolen vehicle from New Orleans to that area by using the license plate recognition cameras stationed throughout the parish.
Fortunato said Harris took detectives on a tour of the area where the thefts occurred and pointed out the location where the suspects dumped the items stolen.
They say that Marvin Carter would later tell police that he saw Marrero with the stolen handgun and driving several of the stolen vehicles. Carter and Harris then gave authorities Marrero’s address in New Orleans, where he was arrested without incident, Fortunato said.
Investigators believe that thefts also occurred on Old Metairie Drive, Sena Drive, Sycamore Drive, West Oakridge Park and East Oakridge Park. He said the thieves selected the vehicles at random by simply pulling on their door handles to see if they were open. They also managed to steal the vehicles because the keys were left inside the cars or left in other unlocked vehicles.
Fortunato urged residents to remember to lock their vehicles and remove their valuables, particularly firearms.
Anyone with information on the thefts can contact Frost at (504) 364-5300 or Crime Stoppers at (504) 822-1111.