Operation Hellcat attempted truck theft
Operation Hellcat (Photos provided by law enforcement)

Operation Hellcat: Seven arrested in high-end vehicle thefts involving Apple AirTags

PORT ALLEN — Seven people were arrested and more are pending with the ongoing Operation Hellcat.

A car heist ring that stole new vehicles from a railroad yard in Port Allen has been formally charged with a host of crimes, including racketeering, according to 18th Judicial District Attorney Tony Clayton.

The charges include five counts of simple burglary, three counts of theft, four counts of attempted theft, principal to simple burglary, accessories after the fact and racketeering, a rarely used criminal charge. 

The charges were filed against seven people: Joseph Parker, Jr., of Harvey, Jaquan R. Price, of Jefferson, Keleen D. Magee, of Harvey, Ashanti M. Bradley, of Westwego, Kelsey M. Smith, of Westwego, Kenneth K. Stackhouse, of Westwego and Dion Roberts, of Harvey. They will be arraigned in district court in Port Allen on June 11. Additional arrests are pending, according to Clayton.

READ NOW: Six arrested in previous Operation Hellcat car theft ring

Clayton said the car theft ring constituted a sophisticated racketeering enterprise in which they would break into high value Dodge vehicles at a railroad yard in Port Allen, take a key fob out of the vehicles and leave an AirTag inside. AirTags are coin-sized GPS tracking devices. Once the vehicles were delivered to various dealerships, they would locate the cars with the AirTag, go to the dealerships with the key fobs and steal the vehicles.

The theft of two vehicles was reported from the Port Allen auto facility in March of 2023, and in July dealerships began reporting vehicles being delivered with key fobs missing. At the same time, AirTags were recovered in vehicles at dealerships and in purchased vehicles. The vehicles and missing key fobs all originated out of the same Port Allen auto facility.

In the investigation by the West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, the AirTags were allegedly tied to suspects Magee, Roberts and Parker. In a search of four residences, they found key fobs, grinders, burglary tools, AirTags and other evidence, and the arrests of the ring followed in March.

“The Sheriff’s Office detectives did a great job on this case,” said Clayton. “We are prosecuting them aggressively under the RICO law, which is rarely used to prosecute cases but perfectly fits this case. And when they are convicted, we will pursue the toughest sentences possible. We are not going to tolerate this activity in our community.”

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