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Steel of a deal: Five charged in stainless heists

Posted August 8, 2008

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— Five Smithfield people have been charged with stealing loads of stainless steel from area manufacturers and selling it for scrap, authorities said.

Amy Jane Rook, 17, and Brandon Ray Johnson, 22, both of 300 Uzzle's Pond Road, Gerald Wayne Honeycutt Sr., 40, and Dina Marie Willis, 41, both of 2483 U.S. Highway 70 West Business, and Jessica Sherill Braswell, 22, 110 Pine Circle, were all charged with conspiracy to obtain property by false pretense.

Johnson and Rook also were charged with attempting to obtain property by false pretense and possession of stolen goods, Willis was charged with larceny and Braswell was charged with obtaining property by false pretense.

The group hit Ace Fabrication in Smithfield nine times in the last four months, grabbing more than $50,000 in stainless steel which was then sold for scrap, said Lt. Jeff Caldwell of the Johnston County Sheriff's Office.

Video of some of the thefts was captured on Ace Fabrication's surveillance cameras, which helped investigators identify the suspects, Caldwell said.

"I would dare say (there were) hundreds of man-hours involved in the investigation. This was just a lot of putting pieces of the puzzle together," he said.

Wise Recycling in Clayton and TT&E Iron and Metal in Garner also cooperated with deputies during the three-month investigation, Caldwell said, noting Rook and Johnson were arrested Wednesday at Wise Recycling when they tried to sell 120 pounds of stainless steel.

Gary Taylor, vice president of Wise Recycling, said employees had to stall the suspected thieves until authorities arrived.

"We were coming up with every type of excuse," Taylor said. "Our poor office girl, she sweats bullets. She (could) hardly look out window."

Wednesday's arrests were the second time in two weeks that Wise Recycling has helped authorities track down suspected thieves, Taylor said, noting such cooperation can only boost the image of scrap-metal recyclers.

"The scrap industry a lot of time gets a bad name because it buys stolen material," he said. "We know we do buy some stolen material, but we try to do our best to at least be reasonable and try not to.

"I do want you to recycle all you can, but I want you to have it legally."

Investigators are trying to determine if the group is responsible for other metals thefts in the area, Caldwell said.


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  • lovecarolinagutters Aug 8, 2008

    $50.000.00 worth of scrap for $5000.00 worth of crack. Some dopeboy is "ridin dirty" on some new rims.

  • dbcooper41 Aug 8, 2008

    sounds like gang activity to me. ooops sorry, wrong color.

  • Boot-the-DC-Tyrant Aug 8, 2008

    What a fine looking group of citizens we have here!

    Bet they finished all of 9th grade!

  • Smiling Aug 8, 2008

    Amy Jane Rook is not cute in any way.....she comes from a long line of criminals..........Johnston County criminals......there was a Rook executed some years back for killing a nurse.....she is probably related to him in some way...he was from Johnston County too.

  • Smiling Aug 8, 2008

    The older people in this "heist" are career criminals, check out the NC Dept of Corrections and the Willis girl has been stealing for a while........they were and still are some of the biggest trouble makers that Johnston County has to offer......I knew of them as a teenager.......they were trouble then and nothing has changed obviously!! Let em rot in jail!! It is time for our legal system to start working!!

  • Wags Aug 8, 2008

    Amy Jane Rook is kinda cute. Too bad her life is now ruined by the criminal influence from the adults in question.

    Yeah, in that drug induced sort of way.

  • North Wake Dad Aug 8, 2008

    "Amazing. Georgia and Russia may be about to start WWIII fighting over South Ossetia, and this is a lead story on WRAL. WRAL editors, you must be proud. Keep looking, perhaps there is a story on a State Fair apple pie baking contest about which you all could inform us prior to any updates on South Ossetia"

    Shoo! Go away! WRAL is a local news outlet. Its not CNN. Its not Foxnews. Its not Reuters. Use those services to keep abreast of foreign affairs like the rest of us do.

  • Hatchcover Aug 8, 2008

    Almost got a Wayne, Lee , Ray this time. Where is Lee - must of slept in.

  • vote4changeASAP Aug 8, 2008

    The new cast from the show "Earl".

  • MalcolmPhoenix Aug 8, 2008

    Crank up the dueling banjos, take the wheels off the house, and make some mayonnaise sandwiches for everybody with this one.