Sheriff’s Office investigators have recovered stolen property with an estimated value of $50,000 and placed a Slidell area man under arrest in connection with the thefts.
Jorge Alberto Munguia-Martinez (2006 Churchill St, Slidell – DOB: 10/21/79) was booked into the St. Tammany Parish Jail yesterday with one count of L.R.S. 14:67.B.1 – Theft over $1,500. Additional charges for theft and possession of stolen property are expected as the investigation continues. His bond has not yet been set on the theft charge; however, an immigration hold has been placed on him.
The arrest yesterday stemmed from the recovery of a golf cart stolen on May 25th from a Lacombe residence. Investigators working on that case obtained video surveillance of Martinez loading the golf cart on to a trailer that he backed into the driveway of the residence. The investigation into that original case has tied Martinez to five other thefts in the Slidell area.
Detectives determined the trailer Martinez used to steal the golf cart was itself stolen during an earlier incident. Martinez’s crime wave started on May 15th when he stole a flatbed utility trailer loaded with a Cub Cadet riding lawn mower and a push mower from a Slidell area home. In two separate incidents, Martinez later stole two enclosed trailers loaded with lawn equipment and tools as well as a John Deere riding lawn mower.
Detectives were able to solve the case by using a general description of Martinez and his truck from surveillance video. Patrol deputies were made aware of the description and were on the lookout for similar vehicles. A patrol deputy, acting on this information, stopped and interviewed Martinez. The patrol deputy notified detectives, who were able to obtain a warrant for the arrest of Martinez. During a subsequent interview with detectives, Martinez confessed to five different thefts.
While recovering various stolen items from area pawn shops, detectives learned that Martinez had pawned items stolen from Hancock County, Mississippi, as well. The Hancock County Sheriff’s Office is now involved in a joint investigation into Martinez’s crime spree. Detectives expect soon to secure warrants for the four remaining thefts and execute them while Martinez is in the parish jail. Martinez also faces possible charges and extradition to Mississippi pending the Hancock County authorities’ investigation.
The owners of the recovered property have all been identified.
The penalty for theft over $1,500 carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment at hard labor and a fine of up to $3,000.