Nobody shouted "April Fool!" when a female suspect attempted to leave a local retail business carrying electronic equipment, but she's the one who was fooled as she walked into the waiting arms of security.
Shreveporters Shadonna Pennington, 24, of the 4000 block of Murvon Street and Shanice Winslow, 24, of the 2500 block of Stonewall, were arrested on one count each of felony theft.
Tuanterrance Pea, 21, of the 1100 block of W. 70th Street, Shreveport, is charged with three counts of felony theft, one count of conspiracy to commit felony theft, resisting an officer by flight, misrepresentation during booking, no driver's license and running a red light.
Minden Police Chief Steve Cropper said his department first received a complaint from the local discount store on March 17. He is aware of at least three times the store has been hit since then.
"Store management had what they believed was a small group of people coming into the electronics department taking TVs and laptop computers," Cropper said. "The suspects would spend a lot of time in the store and, once they got their hands on the merchandise, they would hit a fire exit door."
Cropper said the thieves were communicating with their co-conspirators by cell phone, letting the driver know which exit door they would be using to escape.
"The vehicle would be waiting on them when they hit the door," Cropper said. "Of course, when they hit the fire exit door it would activate an alarm, but by the time anybody could react to it, they were loaded up in the car and gone."
Video surveillance showed what Cropper called a "pretty good picture of the male suspect," who allegedly was Pea.
It also showed the suspects talking to one another and to a person stationed outside in a vehicle.
Since the thefts started, officers have been conducting store "walk throughs," and Monday, April 1, Cropper said he met with the store manager to discuss ways to prevent the thefts from continuing.
"The time of day didn't make any difference," Cropper said. "They were going at night ... they were going during the day ... they didn't have a set time, so we were just doing some walk-throughs."
Later that day (Monday), at around 10:30 p.m., a Loss Prevention employee reportedly contacted the police department saying they had spotted one of the suspects in the store.
According to the chief, Lt. Richard Cooper, Ofc. Ben Allen and other officers surrounded the store.
"They caught Pennington inside the store with about $2,400 worth of merchandise," he said. "One of the store security personnel was outside the fire exit door and when she hit the door, he was standing there waiting for her.
"Pea was the driver, and he immediately turned around and tried to speed off," the chief continued. "Ofc. Allen saw him fleeing from the scene – he (Pea) ran a red light at Hwy. 531 and 79. They got him to stop, and he was the one we had the picture of in the store."
Cropper said Winslow fled on foot into the woods near a paper company on Country Club Circle.
"It was a short search before they caught her," Cropper said.
The trio was booked at the Minden Police Department and transported to Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center.
Pea, who is also wanted on bench warrants for traffic violations, is held on bonds totaling $206,000.
"When he fled the scene, he originally gave us a bogus name and address," said the chief. "He claimed he didn't know anything about the thefts."
Officers originally arrested Pea under the name Frank Moran, according to reports.
"We were able to identify him as Pea the following day," Cropper said. "We had him on video two prior times when that store was hit."
To date, the only items recovered were the televisions and computers taken during the foiled attempt Monday.
Cropper said he feels there is at least one other subject involved.
"The Shreveport Police Department is trying to find him," Cropper said. "There could be other arrests."