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Jobless Baton Rouge defendant sold stolen batteries for scrap

Simple burglary doesn't sound like a crime that carries a severe punishment, but don't be deceived by the name. The punishment for violating Louisiana statute R.S. 14: 62 can include penalties, like a fine up to $2,000 and a prison term of up to 12 years.

Police made an early morning arrest after a months-long investigation into the disappearance of hundreds of batteries from vehicles, large and small, throughout the Baton Rouge area. The arrest came in mid-August when investigators tracked a Chevrolet Tahoe driver to a grocery store parking lot. Police said they watched the man remove nine batteries from several school buses and start putting the stolen goods in the Tahoe.

Investigators learned that a Denham Spring scrap yard had been buying up an unusually large number of automotive batteries. The batteries were supplied by the same person, a 42-year-old man. The scrap sales often took place within hours or one day after the reported thefts, which occurred during early morning hours.

An affidavit stated the defendant began stealing batteries in May, almost 300 in all before the parking lot arrest. At first, the man told officers the batteries in the Tahoe were his own. Later, he later admitted he stole and resold the car, truck and bus batteries for up to $15 each, because he was unemployed, although he couldn't remember how many or how often he stole.

Investigators said they spotted the Tahoe in footage from a surveillance camera. Police secured a GPS tracking warrant to follow the man's vehicle, which apparently led to the arrest. The jobless man was charged with double counts of attempted simple burglary and 19 counts of simple burglary.

Every criminal defendant is entitled to have legal representation. Without a criminal defense attorney's advice, a defendant's rights easily may be violated. With appropriate counseling, defendants can depend upon someone who can protect, defend and negotiate for them.

Source: The Advocate, "Burglaries leave dozens of large vehicles bereft of batteries" Ryan Broussard, Aug. 19, 2014

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