Jefferson Parish shingle thefts add up to big bucks for thieves

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Department has arrested four suspects and is seeking two more in an elaborate scheme to steal over $58,000 worth of roof shingles and return them to local hardware stores, according to spokesman Col. John Fortunato.

Fortunato said deputies found while investigating a simple battery complaint that Ronnie Deville, 33, and Nicholas Champagne,24, had been storing a large quantity of roofing shingles at a friend’s residence in Marrero.

A witness told deputies the pair were stealing shingles from job sites across Jefferson Parish and then returning them to Home Depot and Lowe’s Home Improvement for a refund.

Fortunato said the case was turned over to burglary detectives who found reports of a spate of roofing thefts in the area. Investigators also spoke with a loss prevention manager at Home Depot in Marrero who was conducting an internal audit of the activities of Deville and Champagne, along with Chesley Autin, 25, and Destinee Grabert, 19, who had been returning large quantities of shingles.

Autin and Deville were questioned by detectives and admitted stealing the shingles and returning them to hardware stores in exchange for money and gift cards they used to support their heroin addictions. They told detectives that Champagne, Guidry and Grabert were part of the scheme and that Gary Matherne, 24 and Dylan Guidry, 24, helped organize the thefts.

Autin and Deville were booked on counts ranging from misdemeanor theft to computer fraud. Guidry and Matherne were both located and also booked on a variety of theft, burglary and fraud charges, while Grabert and Champagne still remain at large, Fortunato said.

Fortunato documented over 30 different incidents of theft, beginning in January, with a total value of approximately $58,000.

Anyone with information about the thefts is asked to call the Jefferson Parish Sheriff Office’s burglary division at (504) 364-5300.