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Vandalism spree results in discovery of felony theft ring

Property damage that occurs as a result of an accident can lead to civil penalties anywhere in the country, Louisiana included. Property damage that is intentional, however, is generally regarded as vandalism and is often considered a felony.

In a recent case north of Lake Charles, four local residents suspected of vandalizing vehicles and stores in six area communities were arrested by DeRidder police at a local car wash.

Police allege that the quartet's vandalism spree included slingshot-induced damage to windows on cars and businesses in DeRidder, Leesville, Oakdale, Oberlin, Rosepine and Ville Platte. Surveillance video from several businesses helped authorities to not only locate the vehicle involved, but also to identify the persons suspected of being the vandals. Police seized evidence from the vehicle, including a slingshot, fishing sinkers and marbles, similar to those that were allegedly shot through area windows.

Additional evidence seized by police indicated that those arrested also were involved in a criminal operation linked to several retail store thefts in Louisiana and Texas. Police are alleging that the suspects shoplifted items from stores and used old receipts to obtain cash for the items.

The suspects, three women and a man, were jailed and charged with felony criminal damage to property and conspiracy to commit criminal damage to property for the alleged acts of vandalism. It is not known what charges may follow from the evidence indicating the suspects' participation in the two-state theft ring.

A felony charge can put a person's freedom in jeopardy. Convictions for most felony crimes can result in imprisonment and fines, among other penalties.

All Louisiana residents charged with felonies have the right to contest the charges against them. To exercise that right, they should immediately consult with an experienced legal professional who can defend their interests and work to get them the best possible results.

Source: KATC 3, "4 Accused of Multi-state Theft Operation," Melissa Canone, May 8, 2014

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