ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Crestwood and Sunset Hills police officers claim they’ve solved a series of parking lot car break-ins, one of which resulted in stolen guns. It involves an intriguing evidence trail that led the police to an unexpected confession.
It was a brazen crime spree that impacted mostly shoppers recently. Six cars alone, court records say, were broken into at a busy parking lot near Lindbergh and Watson on Sept. 2.
It’s just one of at least seven businesses where consumers were targeted in September and October, mostly during dinnertime hours. One case involved a Porsche stolen from a Watson Road gas station.
Court records indicate a police breakthrough identified a north St. Louis County suspect, who reportedly confessed that he “committed so many car break-ins that he couldn’t remember all of them.”
“It shows that we have a problem not just in this region but around the country,” St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell said.
Bell’s office charged Javaughn Lesueur, 19, with 16 felony counts in the alleged parking lot crime spree.
Some of the charges involve the theft of three guns from a car in the Watson Road Applebee’s parking lot on Sept. 3. It’s an example of why law enforcement is reminding people criminal suspects are often armed.
The Nov. 13 Clayton murder on Wydown involved a victim who was reportedly checking on people breaking into cars. Joshua Harris was shot to death by defendant Trennell Johnson, who Bell is also prosecuting.
“It’s a tragic example,” Bell said. “You don’t know what you’re facing if you confront them on your own. So, we strongly urge you, if you see something, call the police. Let the professionals handle it.”
Lesueur’s parking lot case is the perfect example of how relying on the police paid off.
Two clues proved key to police investigators with both the Crestwood and Sunset Hills departments, which were collaborating. According to court records, a license plate reader captured the suspect coming and going from crimes, but the case remained cold until one fingerprint identification came back.
Coincidentally, police arrested that suspect two days later in a stolen car with stolen guns.
Citizen Tami Morton was impressed with law enforcement’s resolve.
“Excellent police work. Kudos to the cops. We’re lucky,” she said. “Who would voluntarily be a police officer these days?”
“This was a team effort,” Bell said. “And that’s what it’s going to take in these situations because in a place with 88 municipalities and 55 police departments, we have to work together.”