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Four accused of stealing Destrehan band trailer full of equipment, attempting to sell on Facebook

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 5:22 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 14, 2021 at 8:14 AM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The Destrehan High School community was stunned to learn that a trailer filled with borrowed band equipment had been stolen.

Ida left the campus in shambles, but what happened Monday, Oct. 11, added insult to an already bad situation.

“This was the last thing these kids needed between COVID and Ida,” said band parent Chelsie Domangue.

Four men in a pickup truck pulled up and hitched up to a trailer carrying $30,000 worth of band equipment donated to Destrehan High after the school band room was wiped out by the hurricane.

“They politely, at four in the afternoon, hooked up to it and took off,” said St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne.

The next day the trailer showed up on Facebook marketplace, being sold in D’Iberville, Mississippi. Sheriff Champagne picked up the phone and called D’Iberville police chief Wayne Payne, who he had just met after Ida.

Chief Payne was able to locate the trailer and with the help of St. Charles Parish deputies, quickly arrested Caleb Skinner, 26, of D’Iberville, and Phillip Watkins, 36, of Biloxi, and returned the band trailer back to Hahnville, complete with the donated band equipment.

“To have this happy ending to the story and get the trailer back with the instruments is unbelievable,” said Kade Rogers, an administrator with the St. Charles Parish School System.

The arrested suspects face charges in Mississippi and Louisiana, and the sheriff’s office is looking for two more alleged thieves.

The St. Charles sheriff’s office says the theft of this trailer should serve as a reminder to everyone to be on the lookout as we recover from Hurricane Ida.

“A lot of people can back in the driveway with the trailer and van and look like they belong,” said Champagne.

It will take a while for Destrehan High students to return to their hurricane-damaged campus, but the band will be able to play under the Friday night lights.

“This is a little bit of normalcy. They haven’t been able to play at Friday night football games and that was stolen from them,” said Domangue.

Look for grateful band members in the stadium, when Destrehan High takes on Terrebonne Friday night.

Destrehan High students have been out of school for the last seven weeks, but will be returning to class on Tuesday. They will be sharing facilities at Hahnville High, which reopens next week.

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