By Mary Meaux
February 9, 2011
Two investigators searching a pawn shop database uncovered a clue leading to the apprehension of two suspected serial burglars.
Jefferson County Sheriff Mitch Woods, along with Deputy Richard Droddy and JSCO Sgt. Chad Kolander stood near a podium at the JSCO aviation division hanger surrounded by some of the recovered stolen items when they released information about the burglary ring arrests on Wednesday.
Glenn Champagne, 51, of Groves, is currently incarcerated in the Jefferson County Correctional Facility on a bond of $35,000 for burglary of a habitation and two counts of criminal non-support.
Billy Ray Ross, 47, of Nederland, is currently incarcerated in the Chambers County Correctional Facility on unrelated charges and had a bond for $15,000 for the burglary of a habitation out of Jefferson County.
Champagne and Ross are believed to be responsible for up to 50 burglary of habitations that occurred in rural Jefferson County as well as the cities of Groves, Nederland and Port Arthur, Sheriff Mitch Woods said.
The burglaries began in late December and continued over the course of about six weeks.
White evidence tags were attached to the numerous recovered items, some of which included chain saws, welding machines, lawn mowers, generators, leaf blowers, weed eaters and a saddle and spurs.
Woods explained the suspects would basically drive around town looking for an open garage door or valuable property sitting on the side of a house.
"Sometimes they would knock on the door to see if anyone was at home," he added.
Investigators believe the men committed three to four home burglaries per day then take the stolen items to either local pawn shops or sell them on the street.
Droddy and Kolander, armed with the serial number of a stolen weed eater, began their search with Leads Online. The program allows law enforcement access to pawned items across the state and the name of the person who pawned the item.
The stolen items had been pawned under both Champagne and Ross' names, Woods said.
Droddy and Kolander also learned of persons who had been sold stolen items and were able to recover some of those items, Woods said.
There are likely more burglary victims who just haven't noticed anything stolen yet.
"As springtime gets here we'll notice it," he said of lawn care equipment typically not used during winter months. "Give us a call and we'll see if the missing item is related to these burglaries."
Droddy said the stolen items were located at about six different local pawn shops.
Woods is pleased with the work of his deputies and subsequent clearing of about 50 cases.
"I'm extremely proud of these guys and the hard work that goes into this," Woods said.
Anyone that may have been a victim of these individuals is asked to check their garage or storage units for missing items as we have recovered numerous items that were not reported stolen, Deputy Rod Carroll said.