Local News

Trio Suspected in Scores of Burglaries

Posted April 14, 2008 1:27 p.m. EDT
Updated April 14, 2008 10:41 p.m. EDT

— Three men charged with several burglaries across Harnett County are suspects in at least 70 residential break-ins in three counties in recent months, authorities said Monday.

Juan Carlos Padilla, 23, of Fuquay-Varina, Hugo Gomez Aguirre, 18, of Angier, and Cesar Inez Delatorre, 27, of Benson, have been charged in nine cases in the Fuquay-Varina, Duncan, Angier, Coats and Lillington areas.

Harnett County investigators said they believe the three are behind at least 40 break-ins in the county since January, and more charges are expected against them. Authorities also said more people could be arrested in the case.

"They have pretty much an entrepreneurial business of stealing and getting rid of the property," Harnett County Sheriff Larry Rollins said.

The burglars targeted isolated, rural homes when no one was home during the day, and they usually kicked in a door to get inside, authorities said.

"It's a bad feeling. It is a very bad feeling," said Janice Dupree, whose shed was burglarized.

Dupree said she and her husband have an alarm system on their house, which might have prevented a break-in, but her neighbor wasn't so lucky.

"They trashed the house pretty bad," she said.

Rollins said there are indications the suspects are tied to a Hispanic gang in Angier known as 18th Street.

Johnston County and Wake County authorities also are trying to determine if the men are linked to another 30 unsolved burglaries in southern Wake County and the Benson area in recent months, authorities said.

After noticing a growing number of residential break-ins earlier this year, the Harnett County Sheriff's Office had K-9 and traffic units conduct traffic checkpoints to help investigate the trend. The extra deputies were able to develop information that led to the three arrests, authorities said.

Investigators have recovered more than $20,000 in stolen property, including televisions, jewelry, guns, clothing, stereos, computers and tools.

About 75 guns were taken in the robberies, and most haven't yet been recovered, authorities said.