The Bossier Sheriff’s Office charged two 17-year-old females with more than 30 counts of vehicle burglary to solve 15 cases in the Haughton area, in addition to seven cases solved by the Bossier City Police Department.
Sheriff’s detectives arrested Bethany T. Kendall, 17, of the 2500 block of Melrose in Bossier City, with a total of 16 counts of vehicle burglary and five counts of theft by fraud. She was additionally charged with seven counts of vehicle burglary by the Bossier City Police Department.
Kristil K. Lewis, 17, of the 6200 block of East Texas in Bossier City, faces 14 counts of vehicle burglary from the Bossier Sheriff’s Office and seven counts of vehicle burglary by the Bossier City Police Department.
Both teens were initially arrested on vehicle burglary charges on Oct. 3, and the latest charges were levied Oct. 9, totaling 21 charges for Lewis and 28 charges for Kendall by both agencies.
The investigation began when Kendall and Lewis were arrested on Sept. 28 on unrelated drug and alcohol charges by the Bossier City Police Department during a traffic stop. In the meantime, the two were pegged by police to be involved in vehicle burglaries in Bossier City based on a vehicle description by victims.
Officers then added seven counts of vehicle burglary Oct. 3 to Lewis, who was still incarcerated at the Bossier Maximum Security Facility on the other charges, and to Kendall, who was arrested and transported to the jail. During the investigation, the teens reportedly told detectives about other cases in Bossier Parish, and that’s when police notified detectives with the Bossier Sheriff’s Office.
The teens allegedly admitted to Sheriff’s detectives they took items from vehicles at various residences in the Haughton area over the past few months, committing a crime known as car hopping.
They would park their vehicle at one end of the street in a neighborhood, walk down the street looking for unlocked vehicles and then take what they could. They stole such items as GPS systems, laptops, iPODs, cell phones, sunglasses, money, wallets, cell phone chargers, tools and a handgun. Many were sold at local pawn shops, while others were sold to individuals. Kendall allegedly told detectives she used an older sibling’s identification to pawn some of the items.
All total, Kendall and Lewis are suspected of hitting at least 22 vehicles in Bossier City and the Haughton area stealing thousands of dollars of items over the past few months.
“The cooperation between the Bossier City Police Department and our agency allowed us to clear nearly two dozen vehicle burglaries and ultimately return nearly all the stolen items back to their owners,” said Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington.
Although detectives were able to match most of the items to their owners based on previously filed police reports, some of the owners had to be tracked down.
“I would encourage anyone who believes they may have been a victim of a burglary, whether in your home, place of business or vehicle, to contact your law enforcement agency and file a report,” said Whittington. “Even if you feel it’s a minor incident, your reporting the crime could lead to an arrest and subsequently help solve other cases.”
Car hopping isn’t something new for law enforcement, but it is preventable.
“It’s a trend law enforcement officers around the nation are seeing all too often,” said Detective Chad Madden with the Bossier Sheriff’s Office. “They are crimes of opportunity, but there are some simple precautions residents can take to avoid becoming a victim.
“Probably the easiest, yet often overlooked measure is to lock your vehicle and place valuables and other items out of plain view or in your residence,” said Madden. “We also recommend documenting your valuable items by writing down serial numbers and keeping that information in a safe place. You work hard to pay for your belongings, so take a few moments to safeguard them,” encouraged Madden.
Kendall and Lewis remain incarcerated at the Bossier Maximum Security Facility with bonds of $242,500 and $230,000, respectively.