NEW ORLEANS — Update: The wanted suspect, 44-year-old Riley Richardson of Houston, was arrested and transported to the Slidell City Jail, police officials announced on Nov. 5. He faces a felony theft charge.
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Slidell Police have made an arrest and identified several other suspects in connection with a tire theft ring that stole 'millions of dollars' of tires over several years along the I-10 corridor in several states, Police Chief Randy Fandal said Wednesday.
The theft ring took more than 100 tires from a Slidell car dealership in late April.
Police arrested 39-year-old Eric Summage of Texas and have a warrant for Riley 'Rilo' Richardson, 44, of the Houston area. Fandal said that other arrest warrants are being prepared.
"We've made a big dent in this ring," he said at a press conference. "One message has been made VERY clear to these individuals…don't come to Slidell, Louisiana, to commit your crimes. I told you we would come find you no matter where you were hiding, and I’ve held true to my promise."
Fandal said what made the work of his detectives so impressive is that the ring had worked for several years and succeeded in several thefts across the country before the one in Slidell.
In total, police said 124 tires and rims valued at more than $120,000 were stolen from 31 cars including Chevrolet Tahoes, Malibus, trucks and smaller SUVs from Matt Bowers Chevrolet. Investigators believe the suspects were at the dealership for hours before a UHaul truck pulled up to take away their score.
Fandal said the theft was carried out with sophistication, echoing similar tire thefts in Oklahoma and Texas.
"These thieves were no amateurs," said Fandal. "They defeated locks, alarms and surveillance video."
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Security video from Matt Bowers Chevrolet reportedly showed two men taking locks off side entrances of the dealership around 3 a.m. on April 27, pulling down cameras and manipulating lights so they could work in the dark.
Fandal said two men used wooden blocks and a car jack to prop up the vehicles.
Matt Bowers, the owner of the dealership, put up $25,000 for information leading to the arrest of the people involved.
“We’ll go to whatever lengths necessary for these people to be brought to justice,” Bowers said in a May 1 press conference. “We’re not going to stop pursuing these individuals until I’m taking a selfie in front of them as they’re making their perp walk and I’ll put it on Twitter to show people that they can’t come to this city and violate the trust of its people ever again.”