Police searching for repeat burglar
Missing Metairie man prime suspect in business break-ins
|Photo provided by the St. Charles Sheriff's Office|
Nicholas P. Banta is the prime suspect in a number of business burglaries that occured in the parish.
The 29-year-old Banta is the prime suspect in six burglaries that took place in the parish over the summer. In a majority of these burglaries, access was gained through the roof and assorted currency was removed from both safes and ATMs located inside the stores. But the crimes haven't targeted cash exclusively; assorted items ranging from butterfly shrimp to checks have also been lifted from some of the premises.
"These were sophisticated burglaries and they were not random," Parish Chief Deputy Joseph Cardella said. "There was a good amount of pre-planning that went into these burglaries and there were some subtle techniques used that really stood out."
It was those "subtle techniques" that led parish detectives to connect Banta to the crime in the first place.
On May 23, Banta, along with four accomplices, was arrested and booked with 20 counts of simple burglary in connection with break-ins at 20 businesses in Metairie and River Ridge between February 2006 and February 2007. Banta was also charged with five counts of auto theft for stealing vehicles from other businesses and using them in the burglaries. The men made off with over $200,000 worth of merchandise and cash from the businesses.
The first of the six business burglaries in St. Charles Parish took place while Banta was out on bond for the Jefferson Parish burglaries.
"When the first burglary occurred, Sheriff (Greg) Champagne put out a task force to catch the persons responsible," Cardella said. "From there, detectives developed information that led them to Banta. The burglaries that took place were very specific and had the same M.O. as the crimes that Banta was charged with in Jefferson Parish."
The Sheriff's office believes that Banta is still in the metropolitan New Orleans area and they also think that there are additional suspects involved in the burglaries. The department urges anyone with information to come forward by calling their office at 985-783-6807. Additionally, those with information may also contact Crime Stoppers at 1-877-903-STOP.
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