Local News

Arrest made in copper theft at Wayne County churches

Posted July 10, 2009 11:34 a.m. EDT
Updated July 10, 2009 12:30 p.m. EDT

— Deputies arrested a Goldsboro man Friday in connection with copper thefts from five churches in southern Wayne County in June.

Deputy Aaron Cantwell and state trooper Sgt. Joe Smith went to serve outstanding warrants from Sampson County on Dustin Shane Holland, 29. They noticed some air conditioner parts in the back of his truck and suspected they might have been stolen, said Cpt. Tom Effler, with the Wayne County sheriff's Office.

Wayne County Detectives Rick Farfour and Robert Chunn investigated and questioned Holland, who admitted to stealing copper from the churches' heating and AC systems, Effler said.

"The irony of this crime was that the total damage and theft amounted to around $32,000, and the suspect sold these air conditioners as scrap and received $160," Sheriff Carey A. Winders said.

The thefts occurred between June 14 and 18 at the Shady Grove Baptist, Falling Creek Baptist, Selah, Steven’s Chapel and Thunderswamp Pentecostal churches.

Rev. Odell Moore of Stevens Chapel Church said his church paid more than $6,000 for a new AC unit.

"People want to believe there is some common decency even among thieves and that churches would be off limits to crime," Winders said. "Many of us can remember in years past that the church doors were never locked, that you didn’t have to worry about thieves or vandalism, but in these times that is not the case."

Investigators also determined that Holland broke into a coin-operated machine at Friendly Mart #8, on U.S. Highway 13 South, and stole a television worth $250 from a family member.

Parts from the heating and AC units were recovered but unusable. The TV was also recovered.

"Many times property crimes are hard to solve, especially with few leads. I can attribute the solving of these cases to good police work and being observant," Winders said.

"I am very proud and pleased that the sheriff's office was able to solve these cases," he added. "Maybe this will give our citizens some relief for now that their places of worship are safe."

Holland, of 3664 U.S. 13 South, was charged with six counts each of felony larceny and possession of stolen goods, two counts of misdemeanor possession of stolen goods and one count each of felony breaking-and-entering a coin-operated machine and misdemeanor larceny. He also faces charges of attempted misdemeanor larceny and breaking-and-entering a coin-operated machine in Sampson County.

He was being held at the Wayne County Jail Friday on a $60,000 secured bond.

According to state Department of Correction records, Holland has six misdemeanor convictions since 1997. He most recently served four months in 2006 on convictions for breaking-and-entering a paper-currency machine and possession of drug paraphernalia.