Deputies make arrest in burglary of Ponchatoula home

Tangipahoa Parish sheriff’s deputies early Friday arrested a 22-year-old man in the burglary of a Ponchatoula home, about a month and a half after he was arrested in an ATM ransacking at a Pumpkin Center Road convenience store.

Akeem Arsenio Hall Banks, of Hammond, was booked into the Tangipahoa Parish Jail on counts of burglary of an inhibited dwelling, vehicle burglary, possession of stolen property and criminal damage, Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Dawn Panepinto said in a news release.

Banks was arrested July 31 in connection with a convenience store burglary in which thieves used a mini-van to smash the store’s doors and ransack its ATMs. Authorities said it was one of four similar cases.

Banks was released on $75,000 bail after that arrest but spent about a week in jail before bonding out, Panepinto said.

In the latest case, deputies arrived at 39590 Dutch Lane around 2:30 a.m. about a possible burglary in progress and found Banks standing in the corner of the home’s garage, Panepinto said. Deputies also saw Aaron Watkins, 21, of Hammond, run from the home.

Banks was taken into custody without incident, Panepinto said.

Deputies said they discovered that Banks and Watkins were attempting to burglarize a vehicle in the home’s garage. Deputies are still searching for Watkins and have issued a warrant for his arrest, Panepito said.

In the ATM case, sheriff’s detectives were called to Chuck’s Quick Stop on Pumpkin Center Road on June 26 after the store’s glass front doors had been broken open and cash boxes from the store’s ATMs had been burglarized.

Surveillance video showed a silver minivan smashing the doors.

Two men seen inside the vehicle were wearing dark hooded sweatshirts, gloves and had something covering their faces.

Authorities later found the minivan and sent it to the State Police Crime Lab for analysis.

Banks first became a suspect as a result of a Crime Stoppers tip received by Hammond police, Panepinto said. Authorities interviewed Banks and took a DNA sample from him.

State Police Crime Lab analysts told the Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday that Banks’ DNA matched DNA collected from the mini-van, Panepinto said. Authorities later arrested Banks at a home in Amite.

Banks was booked on counts of burglary of a business and possession of stolen property in that case.

The Pumpkin Center Road ATM burglary is one of at least four such burglaries in the Hammond area authorities are investigating. Authorities have said the burglaries may be linked.