While Livingston Parish Sheriff Jason Ard ate dinner with his family inside Ruffino’s Friday night, someone broke into his personal truck parked outside the restaurant, located a hidden key inside the truck and drove away.
“Because of keyless entry — a luxury many of us rely on a little too heavily — I felt comfortable leaving that key behind,” Ard wrote Saturday on his Facebook page. “Let this be a lesson learned to all who drive vehicles with this feature … and have the same habit. Criminals don’t discriminate.”
East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputies recovered the pickup — which someone apparently broke into by manipulating the keypad — a few hours later around 11:30 p.m. in a lot on Barringer Court, said Casey Rayborn Hicks, a Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman.
However, missing from the truck were Ard’s service handgun and a purse containing a wallet with credit cards.
“Even though I wear a ‘Sheriff’s Hat,’ I’m now a victim,” Ard wrote in his statement. “But the bigger victim of this crime … is my wife. Erica is an amazing woman who holds our family together. During this crime, her personal belongings — containing a lot of our information — were stolen. We have spent most of today trying to correct that.”
On Saturday, deputies were searching for a man dressed as a woman who deputies say attempted to use a debit card stolen from the vehicle about 4:45 a.m. at the Circle K at 4959 Evangeline St.
A store employee said that there was blood on the man’s clothing, Hicks said.
Surveillance footage showed the person of interest wearing “a bluish color dress with long hair,” Hicks said. The person was seen in what appeared to be a red or maroon Honda Coupe.
In his statement, Ard thanked the deputies who worked the case and the staff at Ruffino’s.
“Take it from me, don’t ever let your guard down,” Ard wrote. “Learn from my mistakes. I’d rather it be me than you. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are — anyone can be a victim.”