Three Gaston County residents have been arrested in connection with a series of break-ins to outbuildings early Wednesday at a residence in the southeast part of the county, authorities say.
Investigators said the arrests were due in part to an alert neighbor and the fact that one suspect returned to the crime scene a few hours later.
Charged in the case, according to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, were Jessica Leah Whitehead, 34, of Belmont; Antonio Maurice McClure, 27, of Gastonia; and Quan Artavius Hoyle, 27, of Gastonia.
Each was charged with safecracking, breaking and entering, larceny after breaking and entering, possession of stolen goods, breaking and entering a motor vehicle, and attempted larceny. Whitehead and Hoyle were jailed under $60,000 bond, deputies said, and McClure was held without bond.
Investigators said deputies were called shortly after 4:30 a.m. Wednesday to the 4700 block of Foxchase Lane in Alexis. A man said he heard noises around his neighbor’s outbuildings, went out to investigate, and saw three people near the buildings. The man said he yelled at the three people, and they ran into a wooded area.
Shortly after daybreak, the victim of the break-in went to the storage buildings and saw a black Buick parked nearby, with a four-wheeler attached to the back of the car and a stolen air compressor inside. Deputies said Whitehead had driven the Buick back to the scene and was attempting to unload the air compressor and remove the four-wheeler, both of which allegedly were taken in the break-in.
The homeowner said he tried to stop Whitehead, but she bumped the man’s knee with her car while leaving. The man suffered minor injuries, authorities said.
Whitehead and the two other suspects were arrested a short time later by Gaston County police officers on Charles Raper Jonas Highway, investigators said.
The homeowner said the suspects had broken into two storage buildings and a trailer, allegedly using a torch to remove the lock on one building and removing a wall panel on the other building.
The homeowner said the thieves took three electric drills and two four-wheelers and had tried to open a gun safe by using the torch. Both four-wheelers were recovered, deputies said.