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|Sheriff unveils 'decoys' to catch thieves|
Ouachita Parish Sheriff Royce Toney has one word for anyone considering stealing an ATV, lawn tractor or automobile this summer: Don't.
At a news conference Monday, Toney revealed that if someone sees an ATV or riding mower for sale, they could be sheriff's department decoys.
By placing the decoys around the parish, Toney said deputies will apprehend any would-be thieves who attempt to steal department ATVs.
"We do surveillance on them," Toney said. "It could be physical surveillance or electronic surveillance."
Toney said changes in technology over the years have improved to the point that use of decoys in automobile and ATV theft is almost 100 percent effective.
"Thirty-four years ago we used to put these transponders up on airplanes," Toney said. "But now, everything's getting smaller and, well, we don't intend to lose one."
Earlier this week, deputies arrested four area teens after the group swiped a tagged decoy.
Toney said deputies were watching the four-wheeler when the theft occurred. Apprehending the perpetrators was easy.
According to Toney, deputies were stepping up decoy efforts because the late spring and early summer are the height of four-wheeler and tractor theft.
"They steal these things and sell them to hunters, who take them out to the hunting camps," Toney said. "If they think the law's getting too close, they'll just slash the tires and dump it in the river."
Toney also warned area hunters not to buy stolen goods because "we don't give money back." Anyone who buys a stolen four-wheeler or tractor will lose their money, Toney said.
"So buyer, beware," Toney said. "If you buy an item in Ouachita Parish, you'd better get a bill of sale."
Toney declined to reveal how many vehicles or what types the department would place as decoys in coming months, but he issued a warning to would-be takers.
"I want these thieves to know that, if you live in Ouachita Parish and you steal a four-wheeler or a golf cart or a tractor, you're running the risk of stealing it from the Sheriff's Office," Toney said. "And that's what we're trying to get the thieves to understand. We don't want you stealing in Ouachita Parish."