Donation jar robbery

Published 7:34 pm Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Recently two convenience stores were hit in about 10 minutes apart, both incidents with donation jars as the targets inside convenience stores, while the day before another store was hit twice on the same night.

On Monday, the first of two thefts occurred at about 2:25 p.m. at the Road Runner on Beech Street, said Picayune Police Deputy Chief David Ervin. As officers were enroute to respond to a call concerning the incident, they got another call at about 2:30 p.m. from Shane’s convenience store concerning a similar incident, except the suspect was believed to be still in the store. This caused officers to divert to Shane’s in an attempt to catch the suspect described in both thefts.

After the suspect was taken into custody, the officers reviewed video footage from Road Runner surveillance cameras and determined the same suspect was involved in both incidents, Ervin said.

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Gerald Thomas Easterling, 41, of 3 Ruston Rd. was charged with the theft of the two donation jars.

“It appears the money was allegedly taken in an effort to obtain drugs,” Ervin said.

A separate incident at about 11:06 p.m. Sunday involved an alarm sounding at the Jackson Landing Food Mart on the corner of Jackson Landing and Beech Street. When officers responded to the scene, they found the front door to the store had been broken out with a rock and merchandise was laying on the ground outside the front of the door, Ervin said.

The scene was processed and cleared, the deputy chief said. At about 2 a.m. the alarm at the same location sounded again. When officers responded, they found the other door had been broken out. While securing the scene officers noticed muddy tracks inside the store and followed a trail of a few items believed to have been stolen from the store, along the side of Jackson Landing Road, Ervin said.

As officers continued the investigation, they tracked the droppings to a residence at 2413 Jackson Landing Rd. and noticed a light was on and saw occupants the residence peeking out of a window. Officers approached the residence and asked if anyone in the residence had noticed anyone running along the road recently. Officers then asked s resident, identified as K.C. Chambers, 23, of 4719 Oak Dr., Slidell, La., if there was anyone with him in the residence. Chambers called in to the residence to the other occupants of the home that the police would like to talk to them, Ervin said.

Officers then entered the residence and noticed fresh muddy tracks in the house and one occupants who had mud splatters on his jeans, Ervin said. Officers also noticed cases of beer in the living room and cartons of cigarettes on the table, items similar to those taken from the store.

At that time Chambers, and two other suspects identified as Wayne Paul Brant, 21, 4728 Oak Dr., Slidell and a juvenile, 17, were all charged with two counts each of commercial burglary, Ervin said.