March 27 2008
submitted by: Todd Lefever
BOGALUSA LA. – A local man has been accused of stealing more than $40,000 worth of high-end electronics and furniture from the company he used to work for.
Bogalusa Police Department arrested Howard Byrd, 31, of Bogalusa, last week following an investigation into a theft case at Baber’s Rent-to-Own in the Washington Square Shopping Center next to Piggly Wiggly. Byrd worked at Baber’s as an account manager from July 2007 – November 2007, Baber’s officials confirmed.
Byrd, using the name of a 10-year-old boy, fraudulently filled out rental paperwork on high-definition TVs, DVD players, furniture and other items, police and store officials said.”Anything he could get,” said Lori Hand, the local manager.
Only two items have been recovered – a $3,000 TV, found in Byrd’s home, and a DVD player, Hand said. Byrd was fired from the company in November, but store officials didn’t find out until later the merchandise had been stolen.
While Byrd was employed, he covered up the fact that payments were not being made on the merchandise, but after he left, it became clear the bills weren’t being paid, store officials said.
“When he left, they became further and further behind,” said Pete Bentivegna, Baber’s district manager. A call to police was not made until February.
Store officials said there is still at least $25,000 in items missing that were listed as being “rented” by the 10-year-old. They suspect Byrd used other false names to steal more items, as well.Store officials said Byrd may have already sold much of the merchandise.
“If anybody bought merchandise from him, it was probably stolen,” Bentivegna said.
Store officials are hoping to recoup some of the losses by having the items returned, but right now, it’s a total loss.
The items were not insured, Bentivegna said. Byrd was charged with theft by fraud over $500 and theft of identification. Those who know the whereabouts of the stolen merchandise are encouraged to call the BPD detective’s office at 732-6238.
To remain anonymous, call the BPD tip line at 732-BUST (2878).