By DEUCE NIVEN
Two residential break-ins have been cleared with two arrests and much of the stolen merchandise recovered, Columbus County Sheriff Lewis Hatcher said Friday.
Additional property believed stolen from Walmart in Whiteville was also recovered as part of the same investigation, Hatcher said in a news release.
Angel Elizabeth Strickland, 34, and Bobby Ray Blackwell, 35, of 44 A.B. Godwin Drive, Whiteville, are charged in break-ins that took place on April 11 on Ken Ray Drive, Tabor City and April 13 on Lebanon Church Road, Tabor City.
Both are charged with two felony counts of breaking and entering, two felony counts of larceny after breaking and entering.
Strickland is also charged with possession of a controlled substance in a jail, possession of stolen property, larceny, obtaining property by false pretense, and resisting police, the last three charges brought by the Whiteville Police Department.
Strickland was held at the Columbus County Detention Center under a $25,000 secured bond. Bail for Blackwell was set at $30,000.
A firearm, iPad, foreign coins, lawn and garden power tools and a purse were taken during the Ken Ray Drive break-in; two firearms, two laptop computers, a large flat-screen TV, power tools, documents, photographs and a purse taken from the Lebanon Church Road home, the sheriff said.
A break for detectives came on April 13, when a Tabor City area resident reported a “suspicious vehicle” on his property occupied by a man and a woman who claimed they were there “to take family portraits. Additional tips that day “played a pivotal role in determining the identity of the suspects,” the news release said.
A deputy on patrol the following day found a vehicle that matched the description of the “suspicious vehicle” with a large box in the trunk, sticking out, with an out-of-state license plate that did not match the vehicle.
As a result of that stop the deputy learned that Strickland was at the Whiteville Police Department, where she was being interviewed in relation to property stolen form Walmart. Strickland gave the deputy consent to search her home, the news release said.
Look for more on this story in the next Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.