Police retrieve stolen items, seek suspect
Shreveport police came close to apprehending a suspect accused of illegally possessing and pawning thousands of dollars in stolen merchandise before he managed to elude authorities.
Johnathan Igbokwe, 30, is the suspect in an ongoing investigation into the pawning of merchandise that was found to have been stolen during a residential burglary of a home in the Brunswick Place subdivision last week.
Investigators estimate the stolen property is valued at nearly $20,000.
Igbokwe is believed to have bailed out of a vehicle as authorities closed in on his vehicle in an attempt to conduct a traffic stop.
“We know who he is. The car comes back in his family’s name. We already knew who he was and the kind of car he had, and we impounded the car and got the search warrant for the car and got all of this out of the car,” SPD Detective Roger Courtney said, indicating a table full of stolen items.
The suspect was driving a 2002 Toyota Camry.
Among the items retrieved from the vehicle were several watches including a Daytona watch and a Michael Koss watch, several cell phones including a Blackberry, several laptop computers, a Lexus keychain without any keys, a pair of Gucci eyeglasses, a dark blue zippered pouch labeled College of the Mainland, Texas City, Texas, and several pieces of jewelry.
Courtney said, “I got a call Sunday night from a tipster that had watched Crime Stoppers, and they told me the license plate number of the car, and I put it out to the patrol units that were actually out on the project that night.
One of the patrol cars got behind that vehicle and initiated his emergency equipment to pull the guy over and stop him. The guy refused to stop, exceeded speed, pulled into a hotel parking lot on Monkhouse Drive and jumped out of the car and disappeared over a 6– to 8-foot wooden privacy fence and left his car behind.“We impounded the car and went to the district courthouse and obtained a search warrant for the car, and that’s where all these things came from, was inside of that car. And that’s how we got onto this guy that night.”
Courtney said there are many other items that Igbokwe probably has already disposed of by pawning them, trading them or giving them away.
“There’s way more things out there. This guy has done probably 15 to 20 burglaries that we think that he’s been involved in, and I’m sure that he’s done some that we don’t know that he’s been involved in at this time,” said Courtney.
“The Crime Stoppers tips that came pouring in about this fellow were a tremendous help, and immediately we recognized him as someone we had dealt with in the past. He served time in prison for burglaries in the past. And he was supposed to be on parole — in fact, he is on parole; he never showed up within a year and a half, and they have a warrant for him, too, with no bond on it.”
If a citizen recognizes a stolen item as belonging to himself or to someone else, what should they do? Sgt. Jim Taliaferro, Crime Stoppers coordinator, said they can contact Det. Courtney or Crime Stoppers.
“The most important thing is that we get involved and assist the investigators,” he said, adding that Crime Stoppers does not solve crimes. Rather, the information provided is passed along to the investigators.
“Obviously, somebody knows where (the suspect) is. Every body knows something about something. So we’re encouraging our citizens to get involved, to give us a call at Crime Stoppers, give us a call at the Shreveport Police Department directly, if you’d like.”
Authorities say that citizens can do their part to avoid becoming victims of crimes by taking necessary precautions.
Det. Courtney said that in 90 percent of the cases in which personal property was stolen, the owners did not lock their doors at night and don’t turn their alarm systems on.
“ A lot of burglars are opportunists,” Sgt. Taliaferro said. “They’re going to cruise by, they’re going to see if that’s a valuable target, it’s an easy target, it’s something that I can easily pawn or get rid of on the streets, and they’re going to seize the opportunity to do that.”
He recommends that citizens engrave their valuable items with their driver’s license numbers, not their Social Security numbers, and take pictures of the items and keep a record of the things they own so that they can be readily identified should the need arise.
SPD public information officer Cpl. Marcus Hines recommends using the acronym “TLC” to protect yourself from vehicle burglaries: “Take out your valuables, lock your doors and close your windows.”
“If you do those three things, then you’ll see a drastic decrease in the number of vehicle burglaries because a large part of those vehicle burglaries are simply because people leave their doors unlocked, windows down and leave valuables in plain view,” said Cpl. Hines.
Anyone with any information regarding these burglaries or Igbokwe’s whereabouts is urged to call Crime Stoppers at 673- 7373 or online at www.lockemup. org.