Webster Parish detectives connect Monroe man to June jewelry burglaries

By Griffin Botley

A south Webster Parish family returned home from church Sunday to find their home had been broken into and a 9 mm gun, gold piece and jewelry missing.

Webster Parish Sheriff's investigators have arrested a buyer representing a Monroe-based jewelry retailer for being in possession of the items after two teen-agers did his legwork for him.

Ahmad Zaki Wafa, 27, of Raleigh, North Carolina is charged with illegal possession of stolen things ($300 to $500), contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile and no Webster Parish occupational license.

"Detectives Lt. Scott Tucker and Sgt. Tommy Kemp determined during the investigation of the thefts that two juvenile males stole the gun, a gold piece, jewelry and watches during two separate burglaries on Penal Farm Road," said Sheriff Gary Sexton.

Tucker said while he and Kemp were interviewing the victim Monday, the grandmother of one of the juveniles discovered the gun and brought it to the sheriff's office.

"It was confirmed to be the one that was stolen," Tucker said. "So she brought in her grandchild, his accomplice and a family member of that child for us to interview."

Tucker said the boys admitted to the burglary.

"During the process, they told us they had called a 'gold man' in Monroe, and he came over and bought a chain from them," Tucker said. "While we were working on this, we got a call about another burglary from the same area that happened over the weekend, and the family had just gotten home and discovered it."

The second family was reportedly missing jewelry, watches, cameras and video games.

Sexton said when detectives learned the stolen items had been sold to Wafa, they turned their attention to him.

"He was with a business in Monroe, but he came over here and bought a good bit of jewelry that was stolen out of these two burglaries," Tucker said. "When we started working on it, we realized he never required any identification from the people he bought from."

Tucker said Wafa, who doesn't actually own the business, never wrote a receipt or got names from the juveniles.

"He just paid them cash for it," Tucker said.

The detective said the boys had Wafa's business card.

"We feel like he must've been over here in the past to buy gold," Tucker said.

Reportedly, Wafa worked for The Aurum Place, which according to the Better Business Bureau is a "one stop shop for jewelry and accessories which buys gold, silver and all precious metals and gems in all shapes and forms for exchange and competitive rates."

Sexton said the juveniles were originally charged with aggravated burglary, but as of Tuesday, a count of simple burglary had been added to each one. They are currently housed at Ware Youth Center at Coushatta.

Tucker said families of both juveniles cooperated fully with the sheriff's department.

"They realized the seriousness of it," Tucker said. "But what really got their attention was when they found the gun, which was fully-loaded. They hated to turn in their kids, but they knew it was for the best, and hopefully, down the road, it will save them."

Tucker said they are now investigating the owner of The Aurum Place and will be in touch with Monroe authorities.

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