The wave of burglaries across Uptown neighborhoods has hit a welcome lull of late after the arrest of a handful of repeat offenders, police said Wednesday.
What had been more than a dozen burglaries a week in September has quieted down to just two or three this week and last, statistics for NOPD’s Uptown-based Second District show. Two suspects in particular, Nathan McDaniel and Keith Warner, are each believed to have been involved in a number of break-ins, investigators said at the district’s weekly meeting Wednesday.
On Friday, police were called to a Dollar General store that had just been broken into, and the video surveillance there showed a man coming through the window and taking phones, said Sgt. Marc Amos of the NOPD Second District property-crimes division. The man in the video matched the description of McDaniel, who’d just been stopped nearby 20 minutes earlier by a patrol officer who filled out a field-interview card on the encounter.
“He apparently leaves from the interview that nightwatch did with him and goes right to commit the crime,” Amos said.
McDaniel is being investigated as a suspect in one other burglary already, but Amos said he is likely responsible for many more in the Carrollton and Hollygrove areas. “He lives in the area and hunts in the area,” Amos said.
In a separate case, about 4 a.m. Tuesday, a burglar broke into a home in the 4600 block of South Roman in Broadmoor while the resident was sleeping, taking his keys and using them to steal his red 1999 Honda Civic, police said. About 3 p.m., officers saw the Civic parked about a mile away at the intersection of Eden and South Rendon, called detectives, and watched the car until Warner got into it and drove away.
The officers tried to stop the car, but Warner sped up in an attempt to escape, police said. He hit a pothole, then jumped out while the car was still going around 40 mph, Amos said. He tried to run, but police caught him and arrested him on charges of theft, possession of stolen property and aggravated criminal damage to property.
Currently on parole in Jefferson Parish for a burglary conviction, Warner has served more than 14 years in prison on burglary charges ranging from New Orleans, Louisiana to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, police said.
Looking at the low burglary numbers Wednesday, Capt. Darryl Albert said McDaniel and Warner represent the “1 or 2 percent” of the criminal population that are responsible for the majority of crimes committed.
Amos also noted that burglars’ habits are changing – where they once would plot extensively against a home to determine where the valuables were and what time it would be empty, they can now break in almost any home during the daytime and guess that both spouses will be gone to work, with highly portable, expensive electronics in plain view to steal. Thus, one burglar can account for far more crime than in the past.
“Burglary has become such a rapid-strike crime,” Amos said. “I never thought I would call a TV a ‘high-vaporization’ item, where it can be taken so quickly.”
One other case in the last week was especially worthy of note, Albert said. Because of a recent rash of late-night robberies by bicycle riders, Second District officers have made a particular point of stopping bicyclists late at night and interviewing them.
In one stop this week, a bicyclist told the officer that he bought his bike off the street, but the officer noticed a registration decal for GNO Cyclery. The officer took that registration number back to the store, got the name of the bike’s original owner, and learned from him that the bike had been stolen but never reported, as the victim assumed the bike simply wouldn’t be recoverable.
The officer then went back and found the man he originally saw riding it, who admitted to buying it for $25 with the knowledge that it was likely stolen. He was then arrested for possession of stolen goods, and the bike returned to its original owner.
“If you register it,” Albert said, “we can really do something with it.”
The New Orleans Police Department had its own bicycle-registration program prior to Hurricane Katrina, but it was dismantled after the storm and has yet to be restarted.