BAKER -- How do you keep the SIMs cards straight if you have 36 cellular phones? A group of alleged thieves here won’t have to worry about it.
Baker Police apprehended three suspects wanted in the felony thefts of electronic appliances from Baker Walmart, valued in excess of $17,000.
Joseph Christy, 19, and Cheyone Franklin, 19, both of Baton Rouge, were taken into custody by officers after they were identified by store personnel in a surveillance video which caught the suspects during the act of the theft, said Baker Police Chief Mike “Snapper” Knaps.
Knaps said the day before the arrests, Baker officers were contacted by store management and advised that merchandise from their electronics department had been stolen.
When officers arrived to take the complaint, about 36 cellular phones had been removed from their boxes, which were out of the display case. Phones stolen included top brands such as LG, AT&T, Sprint and Verizon.
“What astounded store personnel was how so much merchandise had gone missing without forced entry or detection,” said Chief Knaps. “The suspects’ greed eventually became their own undoing.”
The night following the theft of the phones, Franklin and Christy were observed returning to Walmart where they attempted to commit a second theft -- of Microsoft X-Box 360 entertainment consoles.
However, since the store’s multiple surveillance cameras had captured the alleged suspects stealing the cell phones the previous night, they were easily identified, Knaps said.
When Christy and Franklin returned to the store, security personnel had been advised of the thefts and given their descriptions. “They were aware and waiting,” said Knaps.
Walmart security immediately notified Baker Police, who later apprehended the suspects without incident.
A third suspect, unrelated to the cell phone thefts, was arrested along with Christy and Franklin and was identified as Devonte Haynes, 18, of Baton Rouge.
Officers were able to recover the keys to the electronics department and found two of the stolen cellular phones in the suspects’ possession, Knaps said.
Upon further questioning by Baker’s Criminal Investigative Division, both Christy and Franklin admitted to taking the keys and using them on both occasions to steal the merchandise.
Haynes was charged and booked into East Baton Rouge Parish prison with one count of felony theft of goods and simple burglary. Christy was booked with two counts of simple burglary, two counts of theft of goods and illegal possession of stolen things. Franklin was also booked on two counts of theft of goods, simple burglary and illegal possession of stolen things. It was discovered that Franklin also had an outstanding warrant for felony theft through the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office.
A third suspect, Demarkel Myles, 18, of Baton Rouge, was identified by Christy and Franklin as being the third accomplice in the original burglary of the 36 cell phones, said Chief Knaps.
On Monday, Jan. 24, Myles, accompanied by his attorney, turned himself in to the BPD. He later confessed to stealing the cellular phones and was charged and booked into the EBRPP for felony theft of goods and simple burglary.