Johnston County Pay Phones A Hot Property
Posted December 16, 2004 6:57 a.m. EST
BENSON, N.C. — An unusual crime is hitting gas stations and convenience stores across Johnston County -- pay phones are missing.
It happened at a Citgo in Benson, at the BP in McGees Crossroads and at Don Lee's convenience store on Highway 50.
"Everything was gone. The whole thing was missing," store employee Gladys Roberts said.
Someone is stealing pay phones in Johnston County.
"The very last thing I would expect to get missing is a pay phone," Roberts said.
At least eight of the phones have disappeared since Thanksgiving.
"When we got to numbers two, three and four, we knew there was a pattern," said Lt. Greg Percy of the Benson Police Department.
Gra Singleton owns five of the missing phones.
"It's been so clean and neat," he said. "It appears someone is coming out in the middle of the night and taking up all the equipment."
Police think the culprits are after the money inside. They phones held anywhere from $74 to $182.
Singleton believes this is work of experienced thieves who sell the equipment.
"The phone can be worth several hundred dollars," Singleton said. "They're cutting the wires like they know what they're doing."
He said phones are also missing elsewhere.
"I can count 20 to 25 right now that I know about," Singleton said. "It's been in the Harnett, Johnston and western Wake areas."
Police recovered pieces from one stolen phone, but do not have much more to go on.
Until they do, they are watching the phones that have not been taken and Singleton is securing his, too.
Benson police may investigate a recent traffic stop. An officer pulled over a pickup truck with phone equipment. The driver showed him what appeared to be a valid work order from Sprint.