Lake Charles woman in hospital gown accused of stealing Port Arthur detective’s personal truck

Published 12:10 am Friday, August 4, 2023

Calls to police regarding a woman at a local emergency room, and surveillance video of a hospital gown-clad woman walking around a truck were clues to the alleged suspect who stole a police detective’s personal truck March 30.

Another clue came when Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies stopped a stolen truck with the same woman riding as a passenger the next day.

The woman, later identified as April Lashan Sterling, 36, of Lake Charles, Louisiana, was indicted Wednesday for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle for a theft that occurred March 30.

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At approximately 9 p.m. March 30, the son of a Port Arthur Police Department officer noticed his father’s truck was missing from the parking lot at Saltgrass Steak House.

He called his father who tried to locate the vehicle and could not. The officer then made a report that his truck was stolen, possibly by using a spare key that was in the truck.

The truck was then entered into a nationwide database as stolen, according to the probable cause affidavit.

The detective discovered PAPD had made several calls to The Medical Center of Southeast Texas emergency room, where Sterling was allegedly a patient. The last call came in at 8 p.m. March 30.

Surveillance cameras in the area reportedly showed at approximately 8:06 p.m. the woman in what appeared to be a hospital gown walking around the truck while parked at Saltgrass. At 8:12 p.m., the truck drives away, the document read.

On March 31 at 10:04 a.m., Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies stopped the stolen truck and Sterling was reportedly a passenger in the vehicle.

The driver gave a statement saying the woman showed up to meet him in the truck and that she had borrowed the truck from a friend.

Sterling is now being held in the Jefferson County Correctional Facility on a $5,000 bond, according to information from Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

An indictment is not a final conviction of guilt; it is only a ruling by the grand jury that allows the district attorney’s office to proceed with a criminal case.