A Caldwell County man is accused of going on a 47-vehicle tire slashing rampage Sunday – mostly involving county-owned vehicles parked outside the sheriff’s office.
All but one of the vehicles had every tire slashed, which adds up to more than 185 tires. Two of the vehicles also had rock damage to windows, official said.
However, Caldwell County deputies say Carlton Couto, 23, of Lenior, caught their attention after being arrested on a different charge. He was picked up at 4 a.m. Monday on a marijuana possession charge near where the tires were slashed, officials said.
As Couto was being charged with the drug offenses, officers viewing security camera video of the damage to the vehicles noticed that Couto looked like the person seen on the tape cutting the tires, the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
He is now charged with 47 counts of injury to personal property, simple possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Couto is being held under a $70,000 bond in the Caldwell County Detention Center, officials said.
Investigators say a knife was used to slash the tires on vehicles parked at both the Sheriff’s Office and Health and Human Services building in Lenior. Thirty-five of the vehicles were county owned, and 12 were personal vehicles, authorities said. The knife has not been recovered, officials said.
Department officials believe the tire slashing may be connected to a visit deputies made to Couto’s home at 10 p.m. Sunday, in connection with a disturbance. No charges were filed during that visit, but deputies believe Couto left the home and walked to the sheriff’s office to slash the tires.
The damage was discovered at 3:48 a.m. Monday, and Couto was found 20 minutes later, standing outside the health department building, officials said.
It will take several weeks to determine a full estimate of the damages caused to the vehicles, but it is expected to be in the thousands of dollars, officials said.
Caldwell County is about 90 minutes northwest of Charlotte.