Three accused purse thieves nabbed after spending spree

Staff reports
Emily Lessard

Gonzales Police Department detectives received word Jan. 11 of a purse stolen from a shopping cart at the LeBlanc’s Food Store on Airline Highway and were soon involved in a stolen credit card spending spree case.

The purse was inadvertently left behind by a local resident after loading groceries in her car, Det. Steve Nethken said. Within minutes, the victim realized her purse was in the shopping cart and returned to the parking lot where she discovered that the purse was missing.

The woman took precautionary steps to protect her credit cards and identity, but learned after calling her credit card companies that purchases had already been made, including some totaling as much as a $1,000 at Sears and Cititrends in Mall of Louisiana, Nethken said.

Purchases were also made at Moe’s Discount, Shell Superstop and the Circle K on Airline Highway all within the city limits of Gonzales, according to Nethken.

Gonzales detectives obtained video surveillance from the Gonzales stores, and with the assistance of East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, also obtained video use of the stolen credit card from Mall of Louisiana.

The three suspects on video surveillance using the stolen card were identified as Teekia Johnson, 27, Emily Lessard, 26, and Jeffery David, 19, according to Nethken.

After securing warrants for the arrest of all three suspects, detectives learned the trio was staying at 8510 Pertuis Road in Sorrento.

Accompanied by East Baton Rouge Sheriff's detectives and Ascension Parish detectives, Gonzales detectives went to the residence Jan. 14 and arrested David.

While at the residence David claimed to not know the whereabouts of Lessard and Johnson, but Nethken said both were seen driving down Pertuis Road while speaking with David.

After detectives were spotted by the pair, the suspects turned around before reaching the residence and a short vehicle pursuit followed which ended with capture of the suspects, Nethken said.

During a search of the residence, the victim’s stolen purse was discovered along with several items that were purchased with the stolen credit cards.

All three were booked into Ascension Parish Prison.

Johnson is charged with two counts of unauthorized use of an access card, one count of attempted unauthorized use of an access card, two counts of forgery, and one count of illegal possession of stolen things.

Lessard and David were arrested as fugitives from the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office in reference to warrants issued for the use of the stolen credit card within their jurisdiction, Nethken said.

Charges are also pending from Ascension Parish authorities.

Teekia Johnson