Four juveniles in Webster Parish are charged with shoplifting from a local Walmart and arson, according to the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry.
The Wester Parish Fire Department contacted LDAF investigators Sept. 12 about fires started behind a Walmart where four juveniles are alleged to have swiped a flare gun from the box store and fired flares that ignited fires, according to an LDAF press release. Webster firefighters aided by LDAF firefighters were quick to respond, keeping the damage to only an acre.
"Upon investigation, Webster Parish Fire Department found several used flares in the area where the fires occurred," according to the press release. "LDAF enforcement agents contacted the Springhill Police Department (SPD), who identified the four juveniles. After a joint investigation between SPD and LDAF, three of the juveniles were arrested. The Springhill police charged them with theft by shoplifting. They were also charged with two counts of simple arson by LDAF enforcement agents. The fourth juvenile is still at large.
The juveniles' names were not released because of their ages, according to LDAF. If convicted, each could receive up to four years in a juvenile detention center.
A conviction of simple arson where damage is $500 or more carries a fine of up to $15,000 and imprisonment of up to 15 years. If the damage is less than $500, a convicted offender can be fined up to $2,500 or imprisoned for up to five years or both.
Anyone accused of a crime is considered innocent until proven guilty.
The public is urged to report any and all forestry-related crimes to LDAF via its 24-hour hotline, 855-452-5323.
The statewide burn ban remains in effect.