Local News

Tenant charged after siding taken off house, sold

Posted June 1, 2009 4:46 p.m. EDT
Updated June 1, 2009 7:23 p.m. EDT

— A Johnston County case proves that crime doesn't pay – at least not much.

Rex Harold Smith, 54, of North O'Neil Street, was charged last week with obtaining property by false pretense and felony conspiracy. He was being held Monday in the Johnston County Jail under a $7,500 bond.

Authorities said Smith removed aluminum siding off the house he was renting near Clayton and sold it to a scrap metal recycler.

"I said, 'What did you do with the siding? Why did you take it off?'" said Phyllis Chalk, Smith's cousin and landlord. "He said, 'Well, I thought there might be termites under.'"

Chalk said she found large chunks of siding missing when she went to the house to evict Smith, who she said refused to pay her any rent. She said she had agreed to let him stay in the house for $100 a month because he was facing some tough times.

"(I was) more than frustrated," she said. "(I was) disgusted."

Investigators said Smith took about six pounds of aluminum siding to a scrap yard and was paid $1.86 for it.

"I think it was a very stupid thing to do to take it off to begin with," Chalk said.

She estimated repairing her house with cost at least $4,000, and she plans to get a court order evicting Smith once he's out of jail so she can find a new tenant.