SLIDELL, La. - A burglary ring on the Northshore has been shut down and thousands of dollars in stolen items are being sent back to their owners.
Five men are behind bars linked to the spree, as well as a juvenile. Authorities say four of the suspects are from New Orleans. The other two recently moved to the Slidell area.
The items recovered include weapons and electronics from hundreds of vehicles across eastern St. Tammany Parish. On Tuesday, Slidell Police Department, St. Tammany Sheriff's Office, New Orleans Police Department and the U.S. Marshals described how nine neighborhoods were targeted over five months time.
They say all it took for the crooks was tugging on plenty of unlocked door handles. What the suspects stole, authorities say, they were able to sell quickly for cash on the streets of New Orleans, including the guns. Detectives getting to the bottom of the burglaries, from all of the agencies, had a hunch they were connected.
'We recognized pretty early on that we were seeing trends develop among vehicle burglaries,' said St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain.
Authorities say the 'Ah Ha' moment in the case came from a victim's surveillance camera system.
'It showed a tattoo of one of the individuals arms,' said Slidell Police Chief Randy Smith, 'With some information we developed, again, with the work of these detectives, we were able to get the subject identified.'
Now crimes in New Orleans, possibly committed with guns taken from the Northshore spree, are getting a closer look.
New Orleans Police Department 7th District Commander Michael Harrison said, 'There are investigations that are underway. We are working through that now to identify associations and connections to crimes as a result of these crimes with these individuals.'
Residents say they're getting the message to lock up.
'Every night, I will go to my door, I make sure I can see my lights flashing when it beeps so I know it's locked,' said Maureen Lestremau, a burglary victim.
Authorities say the group is tied to gang activity in the New Orleans area and many have extensive criminal backgrounds. The suspects are being investigated for eight car thefts and a few home burglaries on the Northshore as well.