Raleigh, N.C. — The state Division of Motor Vehicles License and Theft Bureau and 19 eastern North Carolina law enforcement agencies have broken up a crime suspect suspected of stealing more than $1 million in lawn and construction equipment, authorities said Tuesday.
Authorities have recovered items worth $537,887 during the two-year investigation. The suspects targeted farm and lawn equipment businesses, construction companies, other small businesses and individuals and primarily stole mowers, lawn equipment, trailers, back hoes, tractors, skid steers and mini excavators.
The investigation started in February 2011 by the Pitt County and Beaufort County sheriff’s offices, and the License and Theft Bureau was called in to coordinate the operation as thefts were reported in more counties. Thefts occurred in Beaufort, Brunswick, Chowan, Craven, Duplin, Greene, Harnett, Lenoir, Martin, Nash, Pitt, Wake, Washington and Wilson counties, and stolen equipment was recovered as far away as Mecklenburg County, authorities said.
William Thomas Johnson, 48, and Clinton Gray Dawson, 41, both of Plymouth, each face more than 100 felony counts in the case. Authorities said numerous other thefts in eastern North Carolina have been solved based on their statements and cooperation with law enforcement agencies.
Leon Fitzgerald Davis, 45, of Dunn, is charged with 40 felonies. Michael Anthony Hill, 45, of Windsor, is charged with 15, and Timothy Omar Hankins, 45, of Garner, faces six felony charges.