Since September, sheriff’s detectives have investigated several cases of fishing equipment and gas being stolen from boats and boathouses, mostly in the areas of Plantation Point, Natchez and Bermuda communities.
The value of the stolen property is estimated at $20,000.
Sheriff Stuart Wright and the Cane River Waterway Commission began networking and established additional patrols on the river in an effort to curb the criminal activity.
On Tuesday, Nov. 15, detectives got a break in the case when patrol deputies were following-up on a domestic abuse investigation and suspicious vehicle complaint in the 700 block of La. Hwy 484 south of Natchez.
NATCOM 911 Center received a call from a homeowner near that location reporting a black Ford F-150 was parked on their property without any headlights on.
The Ford then left quickly traveling westbound on La. Hwy 484.
Deputies stopped the vehicle near the intersections of La. Hwy 484 and La. Hwy 493 in the Melrose community.
The operator was identified as Hunter Ross, 25, of Natchez.
The private property owner wished to pursue trespassing charges.
Ross was placed under arrest without incident.
During an inventory of the vehicle, deputies discovered and seized suspected methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia and a Mossberg 12-gauge pump action shotgun.
Deputies also observed, photographed and documented fishing equipment and other items in plain view in the vehicle.
Ross was booked into the Detention Center charged with Aggravated Assault of a Dating Partner with Child Endangerment Law, Possession of a Firearm by a Person Convicted of a Felony, Possession of CDS Schedule II Narcotics, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Criminal Trespassing and Illegal Possession of a Firearm in the Presence of Narcotics.
Detectives were briefed then began to focus on the Cane River thefts.
On Nov. 16, detectives obtained a search warrant to search the impounded Ford.
The search led to the seizure and recovery of one Garmin and two Lowrance fishfinders reported stolen in the Cane River thefts, a bag of suspected methamphetamine, syringes and other drug paraphernalia.
An additional search warrant was executed on Ross’s apartment.
During that search, detectives discovered and seized over 55 rods and reels, several tackle boxes containing fishing lures, fishing nets and other fishing equipment, all believed to be stolen.
Detectives also observed a pump installed in Ross’s boat believed to be used for the purposes of siphoning gas from other boats.
On Nov. 18 at 4:45 p.m. detectives arrested Ross at the NPDC on the charges of
four-Counts of Theft over $5,000 but less than $25,000 and 1-Count of Possession of CDS Schedule II Methamphetamine.
Additional charges may be forthcoming.
Detectives believe most of the thefts occurred during the late evening and early morning hours.