Deputies bust three-parish burglary ring

A burglary ring operating in three parishes over the past six weeks took in a haul that included more than 70 guns, thousands of dollars worth of gold pieces, jewelry and electronics, area law enforcement agencies announced Thursday.

Three people have been detained so far in the investigation: two in the burglaries and a third in the fencing of the stolen goods.

Sheriff’s offices in Lafayette, Acadia and Vermilion parishes have reported an uptick in residential burglaries in recent weeks, mostly in rural areas.

“They would target houses at the end of a subdivision. A lot of them were kind of off the road,” said Vermilion Parish Sheriff Michael Couvillon, whose agency investigated about 20 burglaries over the past two months.

Similar numbers were reported in Acadia and Lafayette parishes. It seemed the burglaries came in waves that shifted from one parish to the next, Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesman Kip Judice said.

“I think these guys were moving around and casing different areas,” he said.

A break in the case came Wednesday when a man in rural Acadia Parish was driving by a home and noticed what he suspected might be a burglary in progress, Acadia Parish Sheriff Wayne Melancon said.

The man reported the license plate number and description of a vehicle at the home to the Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Office, leading authorities to 35-year-old Jerome Thibodeaux, of Maurice, Melancon said.

The second burglary suspect has been identified as Damian Schexnayder, 29, of Rayne, and the two men allegedly sold the stolen goods to 53-year-old Jack Leblanc, of Scott, the Lafayette Sheriff’s Office said.

“He pretty much told them, ‘Whatever you steal I will buy,’ ” Couvillon said, referring to Leblanc.

The loot, recovered from a building on St. Mary Street in Scott, included 41 shotguns, 30 rifles, six handguns, one crossbow and ammunition.

Investigators also recovered jewelry, electronics and more than 40 one-ounce gold pieces, which sell for about $1,300 each.

Judice said the total value of the haul has not been tallied, but victims in some of the recent burglaries reported losses of more than $30,000.

One of the guns has been valued at about $5,000, he said.

The stolen goods filled a storage room Thursday at the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office where investigators were cataloguing the items and trying to track down the owners.

Leblanc was booked in the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center on counts of possession of stolen property, and Schexnayder and Thibodeaux were being held there pending being booked in Vermilion and Acadia parishes.