06/05/08 — Suspect charged in series of thefts

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Suspect charged in series of thefts

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on June 5, 2008 1:46 PM

A Wayne County Sheriff's Office detective said a homeless man is responsible for a string of burglaries that plagued the Old Smithfield Highway area for months.

Willie Marcellus Banks, 47, of the Wayne County area, was charged with felony counts of larceny after breaking or entering, possession of stolen goods and three counts of re-sisting police, according to a release.

Now authorities allege he is responsible for a robbery spree in the Old Smithfield Highway area that began in March and ended late last month.

Banks ran from authorities for nearly a half-mile after two deputies saw him leaving a Pate Circle home through a window, leading to the three charges of resisting arrest.

Multiple Sheriff's Office officers on foot and in cars chased after Banks, including the two who allegedly saw him exit the burglarized home, authorities said.

But the $10,000 bond first assigned to Banks for breaking and entering and possessing stolen goods soon grew to $40,000, then $80,000 as the investigation continued, authorities said.

Lead investigator Detective Sgt. Farfour and Capt. Tom Effler said authorities now expect "multiple felony" warrants to be filed against Banks, who was still being held in Wayne County Jail.

But Wayne County authorities are not the only jurisdictions where Banks was wanted, Farfour said.

Banks was also wanted by the state of North Carolina for Wake County charges of felonious larceny and felony-level possession of stolen goods, Farfour said.

The investigation is not over, but Detective Sgt. Rick Farfour said evidence had collected connects Banks to a number of robberies along Old Smithfield Highway, near the Pate Circle area.

Farfour characterized the neighborhood as quiet and unexpecting of the crime spree for which the detective now expects to charge Banks.

"They can feel safer in that neighborhood again," Farfour said.