WEST MONROE, La. (KTVE/KARD) — On February 23, 2023, the West Monroe Police Department responded to a shoplifting call at Sally’s Beauty Salon on Blanchard Street. Three suspects were arrested in relation to this incident.

Authorities were notified that the suspected shoplifter was seen with an older woman and a dog wearing a green cast on her right arm. When police arrived on the scene, they spotted an older woman who fit the description.

Once contact was made with the woman, she identified herself as 52-year-old Melissa Sims. Sims was advised of her Miranda rights and stated that she understood.

Sims allegedly admitted to being with the shoplifter but denied stealing items herself. Additionally, Sims allegedly informed authorities that the shoplifter was 42-year-old Rusty Thomas and that she was staying at the Woodspring’s Suites with her 40-year-old boyfriend, Gary Brown. 

The police relocated to the Woodspring Suites to make contact with Thomas. When they arrived to her room, they were met by Brown, who claimed that Thomas was not in the room. 

Authorities continued to give out several verbal commands for Thomas to exit the room. Eventually, Thomas walked outside of the room, and she and Brown were advised of their Miranda rights, which both stated they understood.

According to authorities, Thomas confessed to shoplifting and said that the stolen merchandise was inside her purse in the hotel room. Brown and Thomas consented to a search of the room. Before the search of the room, Brown’s person was searched, and authorities located a marijuana cigarette inside a cigarette box in his front right shorts pocket. 

The items from Sally’s Beauty Salon were recovered and appeared to be unused; the merchandise was returned to the business. Further search of the room led to the discovery of numerous bags of methamphetamine and marijuana, one glass pipe, a scale, and multiple small empty clear plastic bags stored in the television stand drawer. 

The items were being kept in a black box on the bed. Brown allegedly claimed the items belonged to him, but Thomas stated they were not hers and did not know who they belonged to. Brown said he did not consume the LSD, but he still had it in his possession.

Police did a record check on Brown, and it was revealed that he also had an active warrant with the West Monroe Police Department. Gary Brown, Rusty Thomas, and Melissa Sims were all taken into custody and transported to the Ouachita Correctional Center for booking. 

Brown and Thomas are facing four criminal charges, while Sims faces two. The following are the bonds set for the three arrestees:

  • Rusty Thomas – $21,750.00
  • Gary Brown – $29,400.00
  • Melissa Sims – $2,500.00