According to LaFayette Police Department:
Ricky Sweet, 42, and Julian Uvalle, 24, both of 406 Duke St., were arrested on Friday, Sept. 21, for six incidents of theft while entering autos.
On Friday morning police officers decided to check on Sweet, who was released from prison on parole five weeks ago, according to officer Darin Kelley.
Sweet, described as a “hardened career criminal,” had been in prison of 19 years, stemming from an aggravated assault and robbery where he stabbed a woman.
Terms of parole only allowed him out of the home from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. due to wearing an ankle monitor.
He had been staying with his sister’s husband, Joe Uvalle, who gave consent to search the residence and notified officers that nearly all of the contents of Sweet’s room were stolen items.
Sweet had partnered with Uvalle’s son (Julian) while committing the thefts from vehicles.
The items stolen range from a woman’s purse to change and packages of cigarettes.
The most expensive items belonged to a local firefighter, which had all of his “turn out” gear and a $1,500 digital scanner stolen. The fire gear was found in a wooded are near Ace Hardware, while the radio was fortunately among property found in the investigation.
Authorities discovered all of the items from the vehicles taken during the two previous days at the Duke Street residence.
Many more items, including nearly 20 cell phones, were collected and inventoried, possibly belonging to cases with other law enforcement agencies.
The evidence will possibly be pivotal in solving other cases.
The recent crimes took place in a close proximity to their residences, three of which were in a one-block area of Culberson Avenue, another at a parking lot on South Main Street and even next door to the suspect’s home at 408 Duke Street, where a vehicle was “rummage thru” but it remains unclear if anything was stolen.
Uvalle also allegedly stole from two local churches, prying his way into the LaFayette Church of Christ to steal money from the offering plate on the church’s altar on Sept. 20, which he reportedly admitted during an interview with authorities.
He also stole two cameras from Second Baptist Church after having free dental work during a community service event at the church several weeks ago, according to authorities.
Uvalle has cooperated with police, who maintain that he has a “probable connection to other thefts in the past year,” possibly with a few other suspects.
LaFayette authorities caution citizens to lock their vehicles to avoid “crimes of opportunity,” as all of the recent thefts have taken place in vehicles that were carelessly left unlocked by their owners.
“There is no doubt in my mind that if these people had locked their doors they wouldn’t have been victims yesterday,” captain Stacey Meeks said.
Uvalle faces two counts of burglary and six entering autos, and charges are pending for another burglary being handled by the Walker County Sheriff’s Office, which recovered items from that incident at Uvalle’s residence alongside LPD officers.
Sweet is charged with the four entering autos that he helped Uvalle with and faces further charges for violating the terms of parole.