Suspect in churches' AC thefts arrested
By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on July 10, 2009 1:46 PM
Authorities allege a Grantham man is responsible for five thefts of air conditioners from churches in the southern end of Wayne County, authorities said.
Dustin Shane Holland, 29, of U.S. 13 South, faces six counts each of felony-level larceny, possession of stolen goods and other charges, authorities said.
Holland was being transported from Sampson County Jail this morning, and a bond amount had not yet been determined, Detective Rick Farfour said.
Warrants for his arrest had been issued, but he was not expected to be jailed in Wayne County until 10 today.
Between June 14 and June 18, five churches reported damaged or stolen air conditioning units, Farfour said.
The stolen property added up to about $30,000 in damages and lost goods, Farfour reported.
However, the alleged thefts did not earn the suspect anywhere near the value of the damaged and stolen units, authorities said.
After the units were stolen, Holland allegedly disassembled the units and sold the parts to a scrap yard for $116.25, Farfour reported.
Many of the parts were recovered from a scrap yard, but were damaged too much to be of any value to the victims, Capt. Tom Effler said.
Targeted churches including Shady Grove Church, Stevens Church, Falling Creek Church, Selah Christian Church and Thunder Swamp Church.
Holland's arrest came after he was stopped in an unrelated incident. An officer found one piece of an air conditioner in the suspect's vehicle, detectives said.
Farfour said he interviewed Holland about the church thefts, and said the suspect admitted to taking the air conditioning units.
During the course of the interviews, the detective also asked Holland about a break-in at a coin-operated machine at a U.S. 13 Friendly Mart.
The detective said Holland admitted to stealing an undisclosed amount of money from the machine.
Holland also admitted to stealing a television worth $250 from a family member.
Farfour said the television set had been recovered.
Sheriff Carey Winders issued a statement via press release this morning.
"Certainly any time that you have a crime that involves our churches it is upsetting to the community and (church) members," Winders said. "People want to believe there is some common decency even among thieves and that churches would be off limits to crime.
"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."
Winders also praised one of his deputies, Joe Smith, who quickly called Farfour when he noticed a piece of the stolen air conditioning unit in Holland's vehicle.
The sheriff said that by looking at what Holland got in exchange for stealing the units, it is clear that "crime does not pay."
"The irony of this crime was that the total damage and theft amounted to around $32,000 and the suspect sold these air conditioner units as scrap and received around $160," Winders said.