Recently, a Washington Parish church located on Highway 10 between Bogalusa and Franklinton reported the theft of the church’s central air-conditioning unit. It was reported that the thief also attempted to gain entry into the locked church building at the same time.
Patrol deputies took the initial report and soon thereafter recovered the air-conditioning unit which had been sold to a third party. Evidence connected Ernest Joseph Lester, 33, a resident of Highway 10, to the theft and attempted entry.
After Lester was identified, a patrol Sergeant spotted him at a Franklinton gas station and arrested him without incident on June 27. Lester was placed in the Washington Parish Jail with bond set at $12,500 on charges of:
- Attempted Simple Burglary of a Religious Building
- Criminal Damage
Lester has a history of theft and drug related offenses and is well known to the Sheriff’s Office.
“Kudos to our patrol division for solving this crime within forty-eight hours,” said Sheriff Randy Seal. “Our patrol officers took the initial report, recovered the stolen property and arrested the thief, all within a few hours. They did an excellent job and I thank them for all they do. When you see one of them working in the parish, I encourage you to thank them also. They are hard-working officers who patrol our parish day and night to help keep us safe.”
Sheriff Seal continued, “I’m pleased that the unit was recovered and the church can once again have services during these hot summer months in a cool building. This fine congregation and pastor deserves better than to suffer at the hands of a thief.”