Franklin authorities itemize suspected stolen goods
Posted March 6, 2012 1:03 p.m. EST
Updated March 8, 2012 4:07 p.m. EST
Bunn, N.C. — Power tools, flat-screen televisions, computers, jewelry and other items lined the floor of a Franklin County Sheriff's Office garage Tuesday as investigators tried to itemize goods they believe were stolen in a string of burglaries.
Franklin County Sheriff Jerry Jones said the items, which he valued at more than $100,000, could be evidence in dozens of break-ins in Franklin and Wake counties dating to August.
"We've heard about this in bigger counties where people were more organized," Jones said, noting that he has never seen such a large cache of stolen goods.
Scottie Joe Hunter, 35, of 100 Perry Lane in Zebulon, was arrested late Monday after deputies searched his home and found the goods. He was charged with 28 counts of breaking and entering and 12 counts of larceny in Franklin County, and Wake County authorities charged him with filed felony larceny of a motor vehicle and larceny of a motor vehicle charges.
Hunter and his girlfriend refused to allow the search, and the sheriff said Hunter used the time it took for deputies to obtain a search warrant to hide some of the stolen property in trash bags containing his 5-week-old child's dirty diapers.
"It appears this guy basically targeted construction sites, utility trailers, utility buildings," Jones said. "(There's) a lot of people's property here that they use to make a living."
A Wake County Sheriff's Office investigation into a stolen utility trailer led to Hunter's arrest.
A security video from a home in the Hopkins Crossroads community showed a man hooking a trailer to his truck early Monday and driving off. Jones said the description of the man and truck matched those of a man his deputies stopped in the area a week earlier, and that led to the search of Hunter's home and his arrest.
"We'll get with the DA's office and find the best, quickest and proper way to get property back to the proper owners," the sheriff said.
Hunter has a lengthy record of burglary and larceny convictions dating to the early 1990s, according to state Department of Public Safety records.
Still, neighbor Ann Settle found Hunter's alleged burglary spree upsetting.
"We are in a nice little community here, and we were disappointed to think that someone who lives three doors down would violate you like that, just break into your house and take your things. It was just a violation," Settle said.
Her house was broken into about a month ago, and one of the items the burglar stole was a trinket box that sat on her mother's dresser for half a century before she died three years ago. She said she worried she would never get the box back.
Patrick Settle said he said a prayer for the box's return Monday evening when he saw deputies in his neighborhood while on his way to take his wife out for a birthday dinner. Hours later, his prayer was answered, and her birthday wish came true.
"I was just elated. It just brought joy to her, and it brings joy to me," Patrick Settle said.