13 businesses hit in theft spree
A 25-year-old homeless man told investigators that he burglarized more than a dozen south Baton Rouge businesses looking for money to buy food and a one-way bus ticket to Oklahoma.
Before Dexter Carroll could make his way out of Louisiana, though, authorities caught up with him. He’s accused of burglarizing at least 13 businesses in December and early January, mostly near the intersection of Perkins Road and Essen Lane, according to arrest documents.
Once in custody, Carroll, whose last verified address was in Baton Rouge, spared no detail in describing the burglaries.
Each time, he would chuck a piece of concrete through a glass door to gain entry into the businesses, which included restaurants, a bicycle shop, a bank, a car parts shop, a hair salon and a law office, among others, according to affidavits of probable cause.
Carroll explained all this to police as he rode around the area in a police unit after his arrest, pointing to the various businesses he said he burgled. In one instance, the officer almost passed up one of the locations, Teal Office Products on Staring Lane, when Carroll said, “Slow down. You’re about to pass up Teal,” according to a probable cause affidavit.
Carroll learned his way around the area while living at a halfway house on Alberta Drive off Staring Lane prior to the burglary spree. He also lived out of an abandoned vehicle in a parking lot off Staring Lane for some time, the affidavit says.
One of the first burglaries, from what authorities have gathered so far, took place on the night of Dec. 29 at the Dollar General store on Staring Lane. In that instance, the burglar gained entry by throwing a “large piece of concrete” through the store’s glass front door, according to the affidavit.
Once inside, the burglar stole five cellphones — phones Carroll told police he got rid of prior to his arrest on Jan. 4.
Minutes before the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve, the same Dollar General store was broken into in the same manner as had occurred just two days earlier.
On that night, only cigarettes were stolen, the affidavit says.
After the first break-in, the store had the glass repaired. After break-in No. 2, the store had to buy a new door, said Rasheeta Matthews, an assistant manager at the store.
Carroll told authorities he broke into a number of businesses over the next several days. In some cases, businesses reported several hundred dollars missing and thousands of dollars in damage.
In others, such as the Dec. 10 burglary of a law office on Bluebonnet Boulevard, Carroll told deputies with the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office that he took only $4, leaving muddy shoe prints in his destructive wake.
In most cases, authorities accuse Carroll of breaking into a store and using any means possible to get into cash registers, which often included smashing them on the ground, documents show.
PJ’s Coffee on Essen Lane had its glass door shattered, cash registers smashed and several hundred dollars taken in a Jan. 4 burglary. On the same day, Carquest Auto Parts on Staring lane was “ransacked,” although Carroll told police he “didn’t get anything from there,” according to a probable cause affidavit.
Carroll was booked on numerous counts of simple burglary, theft and simple criminal damage to property. His bail at the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison now totals more than $150,000, according to Parish Prison records.
Court records indicate that Carroll pleaded guilty to other burglary charges in August of 2010. But it was unclear late Friday how much prison time he may have served.
Police are still looking for information that may lead them to additional burglaries in the area, said Cpl. L’Jean McKneely, a Baton Rouge police spokesman. Police can be reached at (225) 389-3824, and Crime Stoppers will take anonymous tips at (225) 344-7867.