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Karen Swensen / Eyewitness News
Email: kswensen@wwltv.com | Twitter: @karenswensen

NEW ORLEANS -- What started as a search for a couple of alleged shoplifters seems to have ballooned into much more.

Police helicopters, airboats and dogs are on the hunt in New Orleans East.

What kind of criminal triggers this kind of search by air, land and sea in the dark hours of the night?

Not likely just a shoplifter, as they first thought.

'When we searched the vehicle we found stolen weapons, stolen property,' said Det. Daniel Seuzeneau of the Slidell Police Department. 'So it's definitely snow-balling into something much bigger than just a shoplifting.'

It's a bizarre story that started Wednesday afternoon. Two men allegedly shoplifted enough iPhones from a T-Mobile store in Slidell to make it a felony.

They then took off in a stolen Mustang, leading police on a high-speed chase over the Twin Spans before crashing in the marsh on the New Orleans side.

'One suspect is in custody,' Seuzeneau said. 'The other suspect fled into the marsh area.'

It was at this point we first reported the story at 6 p.m., and not long after it aired, Raymond Tapp called our newsroom. He said he recognized the getaway car, that it was his that had been stolen when he stopped at a store before work early Monday morning.

'Grabbed my smokes, came outside my vehicle was gone,' said Raymond Tapp. 'Less than two minutes.'

Tapp said the gun he kept in his car had been stolen too. But it's unclear whether this one is his, or one of the others police recovered, not to mention the ones the suspects allegedly tossed into the lake during the chase.

'They were throwing some of the stolen property out of the car as well as weapons,' Seuzeneau said.

There are more questions than answers who are the suspects, how many crimes have they committed, and where is the one who got away?

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