Right away, the video gives people pause: Surveillance cameras captured brazen car burglars in the act in Old Metairie over the weekend.
Security cameras mounted on homes in the normally quiet neighborhood shrouded by trees chronicled the vehicle burglaries in progress. In one video clip, four males are seen pulling on car doors; in another you see them approaching a driveway with one of the men extending a gun towards the would-be victim's front door.
"I was pretty shocked that I didn't know about it," said a man whose identity we are protecting. He provided some of the surveillance video of the men targeting his unlocked car in his driveway early Sunday morning.
He said his knowledge of the burglary was not immediate. The man said his brother informed him that car burglars had hit the neighborhood, prompting him to check his own security camera video.
What the video showed was startling.
"To see them go through my car like that, and the fact that they had guns. I mean they were in my car, fully in my car rifling through it," said the Old Metairie resident.
Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand discussed the disturbing video in his office Tuesday afternoon.
"What's troubling about some of the video that we saw from the security cameras of some of the houses, and vehicles in front of the houses that were burglarized, is it appears that we have four males checking car doors, checking handles going up into driveways, checking the handles of car doors, and at the same time there's one guy playing as a lookout with a gun in his hand and has the gun pointed at the front door of the residence when they're in front of a particular residence while checking the vehicles," Normand said.
Had someone exited one of the homes, authorities fear things may have ended differently.
"And even the way that he's brandishing the weapon, as you saw in the video, it doesn't look like an individual that's necessarily comfortable with that weapon in his hand, so you never know what can happen in that particular happenstance, and obviously the way that he was standing and pointing it at a front door it seems to me that he was ready to engage and ready to fire," Normand said.
He said during the early morning hours of Aug. 10, there was a rash of vehicle burglaries in the area of the 100 to 300 blocks of Metairie Lawn Drive, as well as the 100 to 300 blocks of Labarre Road. The sheriff's office is also investigating several other vehicle burglaries in the same general area.
Normand has a warning for residents who might spot the car burglars in the act.
"To be very cautious, if they see someone burglarizing their vehicles that they should call 911 immediately and not exit their home until we can get our hands around these four knuckleheads and figure out who they are and what they're about," he said.
"They had the gun aimed at some body's front door, you know, as they were checking cars to see if they were opened. I mean that's, you know, that's some serious stuff," said one of the victims.
"It's very scary, extremely scary," said another resident.
The sheriff said too many people in the area have a habit of leaving their cars unlocked.
"The shopping there is good, meaning a high percentage of vehicles are unlocked, there's a false sense of security sometimes in that particular area, it is one of the safest areas of Jefferson Parish, but that doesn't mean you can let your guard down," said Normand.
And given what the surveillance video captured one victim of the car burglars said he will not have to be reminded twice to lock his vehicle.
"Going forward I'll definitely make sure my car is locked, I'll definitely make sure I bring my firearm in at night," he said.
"Do not leave your purse in the car, do not leave your cell phones in the car, do not leave your iPads in the car, do not leave your GPS on the dashboards, and certainly if you do lock your door," continued the sheriff.
Normand said they believe a 2013 black two door Honda Accord with the Louisiana license plate number WWZ539 which was stolen from the 2600 block of Vivian Street is thought to be connected with the suspects in the car burglaries.
The vehicle was captured on one of the department's West Bank cameras over the weekend.
Anyone with information on the car or the suspects is asked to contact the JPSO's Burglary/Theft Division at (504) 364-5300 or call Crimestoppers at 822-1111.