Suspects used online listings to find break-in targets

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Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone, flanked on his right by Rocky Mount police Capt. Henry King Jr., and on the left by Franklin County Sheriff Kent Winstead, answers questions Tuesday during a press conference about arrests made in a residential break-in spree across Eastern North Carolina.

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Staff Writer

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

In the wake of the arrest of a ring of suspects accused of stealing kitchen appliances from empty houses across Eastern North Carolina, authorities are warning owners and real estate agents to be careful when posting online information and photos of homes for sale.

More than 70 residences in a dozen counties and seven municipalities from Raleigh to Jacksonville were hit with the thefts amounting to $100,000 in stolen appliances plus countless damages to property including busted doors and broken windows.

Thomas Glenn Wiggs, 44, of Dudley; Kimberly Dale Adams, 49, of Knightdale; and Wesley Adam Narron, 26, of Spring Hope; were charged with multiple counts of conspiracy, breaking and entering and larceny. They have pending court dates in at least 10 counties.

Wiggs and Adams were convicted of similar crimes in 2012 and 2015. Narron — who doesn't have a prior criminal record — is a friend of the other two suspects who got pulled into their criminal activities, said Sgt. Tim Smith of the Nash County Sheriff's Office.

Working together, investigators with the Nash County Sheriff's Office and the Rocky Mount Police Department began looking at homes being broken into compared to online for-sale listings. They figured out the perpetrators they were looking for were more than likely active in other jurisdictions. They reached out to other deputies and detectives, said Sgt. Jeff Sherrod of the Nash County Sheriff’s Office, the lead detective on the case.

“The big break came when Wake County investigators lifted a palm print,” Sherrod said. “That allowed us to obtain a search warrant of the suspect's house, where we found some of the stolen items.”

Sherrod said two of the three suspects made incriminating admissions during interviews. He wouldn't say which of the three made the admissions or their exact nature.

The trio allegedly had a shopping list of desired appliances and visited real estate websites taking virtual tours of the houses, looking not for homes to buy but appliances to steal.

Nash County Chief Deputy Brandon Medina said deputies and officers will soon be meeting with real estate agencies about steps that can be taken to guard against such thievery in the future.

When the three suspects found appliances they wanted, they would enter the targeted house, often in broad daylight, and remove the items. Passers-by and neighbors thought they were working for the owner or real estate agency and were just swapping out appliances, said Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone.

Residents should report anything suspicious activity in their neighborhoods right away to their local authorities, Stone said.

“If you see something, say something,” Stone said.

Homeowners selling a house need to check it on a regular basis for signs of break-ins or missing items, Stone said.

The items were sold at flea markets and via trader apps with the ill-gotten gains likely used to buy illicit drugs, Stone said.

More charges against the three suspects are possible.

“Investigations don't end with an arrest,” Stone said Tuesday at a press conference held with representatives of most of the agencies that participated in the two-month investigation.