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Thieves make off with railroad tracks

Posted August 6, 2008

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— Two men were arrested Tuesday evening after Cumberland County deputies discovered pieces of a CSX rail line had been stolen, authorities said.

Kenneth Ray Watts Jr., 23, of 1448 Middlesbrough Drive in Fayetteville, and Terry Walton Green, 38, of 182 Williams Lane in Roseboro, were each charged with misdemeanor larceny and second-degree trespassing.

The pair were arrested on the CSX railroad tracks near the intersection of Camden and Crystal Springs roads. Deputies found 40 steel plates weighing 10 to 20 pounds each, 25 railroad spikes and five 3-foot sections of track in a black SUV parked near the Camden Road overpass, authorities said.

"Some of those pieces you just couldn't hide. They were very large pieces," said Debbie Tanna, spokeswoman for the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office.

With scrap iron selling for $8.50 per 100 pounds, investigators said they believe the men were looking to cash in.

"Unless they were planning to lay down tracks in the backyard of their house, chances are real good they were wanting to sell it for profit," Tanna said. "If I were operating a salvage yard and someone came in with railroad tracks, that would definitely be a red flag for me."

CSX officials said the rail line wasn't breached. The materials that had been taken were from an old, used track and not the main line, officials said.

"We see nothing to indicate that any damage was done to the original tracks," Tanna said.

37 Comments

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  • agmurphy1976 Aug 7, 2008

    Even better, why don’t you test your theory. I see all sorts of abandoned stuff on private property (patio furniture, farm equipment, toys, potted plant, trailers, old cars, etc) . Shoot, I own a trailer and sometimes it doesn’t get used for months. Its got to be ok to consider it abandoned. Just start riding around, identify all the abandoned stuff you can find and take it. See how long before some explains this concept to you using a more aggressive approach.

  • golowral Aug 7, 2008

    Just out of curiosity... I know that railroad property is under federal jurisdiction. As well, the railroads have their own law enforcement agency. (A force not to be reckoned with I am told.) So, were the Raleigh cops actually out of their jurisdiction and hence guilty of trespassing themselves? Please, no opinions, just factual responses. Tnx.

  • Andiecat Aug 7, 2008

    I tried to get my father a tie for his birthday, but the railroad made me put it back!

  • angora2 Aug 6, 2008

    "Dry up the demand. The salvage yards need to be restricted from buying ANYTHING that isn't from a contractor or licensed mechanic. Can't there be anything done on that end?"

    As usual, folks come up with great ideas, but these ideas take money, and that means higher taxes. I don't mind paying higher taxes for new services that prevent crime, but I'll bet most would squeal like stuck pigs.

  • Steve Crisp Aug 6, 2008

    To agmurphy:

    And if you knew one tenth of what I know, you would have realized that a car is titled, automatically making it the property of someoner regardless of where it is abandoned. You would also realize that if it is creating a hazard and needs to be towed, AND you do not claim it within a certain period of time, it becomes the property of the city to auction off or the towing company to compensate them for storage charges. So your example is essentially worthless.

    You could have produced something a bit more convincing by saying that you left a tire with rim on the side of the road after changing a flat because you had no where to put the full sized tire back into your car. You would have still been wrong since that would be abandoned property and fair game, but at least the logic would have made sense.

    I do encourage you to try again, though.

  • dixie dingo Aug 6, 2008

    Dry up the demand. The salvage yards need to be restricted from buying ANYTHING that isn't from a contractor or licensed mechanic. Can't there be anything done on that end?????

  • agmurphy1976 Aug 6, 2008

    So, Steve Crisp, based on your logic I could park my car on the side of the road and if these two saw it they could steal it. And if they were caught they should be told that I still want that car so they shouldn't have took it. Furthermore, they should not be charged with theft, afterall, they didn't know whether or not I still wanted the car. It was just a miss understanding...based on your logic. Or we could consider it stealing since they took something that doesn't belong to them. Doesn't matter whether its a bunch of steel plates sitting on the ground or a Mercedes, if you don't own it and you take it you're a thief. Now, if they had contacted the railroad prior (which may have been a way to find out if the railroad still wanted it) and gotten written permission to take this stuff that would be different. I don't know where you get your "common convention" from but I would have expected something better from the "man who knows everything."

  • colliedave Aug 6, 2008

    be they weren't singing "I've been working on the railroad"

  • WRAL is joe_dirt Aug 6, 2008

    Merely cleaning up the environment.

  • Bendal1 Aug 6, 2008

    Actually, most railroads in NC claim up to 100' of R/W on each side of the center of the tracks. There are plenty of areas in the state where a highway is within the R/R right of way and the state has to purchase land from the R/R just to widen the road, even though the state R/W for the road overlaps the railroad's R/W!

    And yes, anything relating to the tracks in that R/W is still their property, whether it's just lying there or in use.

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