Sampson man faces stolen property charges

By Sherry Matthews Editor

February 20, 2014

A concerned citizen’s tip about stolen property being received at a residence on Cliff Lane has led to the arrest of a Sampson man on felony and misdemeanor charges related to the incident.

Earl Wayne Hodges, 27, of 77 Tanner Lane, Autryville, remains in jail under a $95,500 bond, charged with four counts possession of stolen property — three misdemeanors and one felony — one count misdemeanor larceny and a failure to appear on a driving while license revoked offense.

According to information from sheriff’s officials Hodges was taken into custody about a week ago on outstanding failure to appear warrants issued by Cumberland County authorities. While in custody, the additional charges were leveled.

Those charges stem from an extensive Sampson Sheriff’s Department investigation precipitated by the citizen tip about stolen property, to include trailers and lawn mowers.

During the probe, officers conducted surveillance, along with an undercover operation, to confirm the tip.

Officers noted in reports that they were able to local several trailers, as well as riding lawnmowers at 174 Cliff Lane, Clinton. One of those trailers had a N.C. registration plate attached. From that plate, officers were able to confirm that it was, in fact, stolen from Cumberland County.

On Jan. 24, members of the department’s Criminal Investigations Division conducted a search on the Cliff Lane residence and property, OK’d by the owner.

Four stolen trailers taken from Cumberland and Johnston counties were recovered, with values of $300 to $1,200. In addition, a 2010 John Deere zero turn riding lawn mower and a new 2014 utility trailer, valued at in excess of $8,000, was found.

Sheriff’s officials said the investigation led them to Hodges as a suspect, along with several other individuals whose names have not yet been released.

Hodges, who, officers said, was on probation in Sampson, was taken into custody on Feb. 10 and charged with the assorted offenses.

An investigation, officers said, was continuing and more arrests were expected.

Sheriff Jimmy Thornton, at the scene when the recovered property was brought to the Sheriff’s Department, praised both his staff for the hard work that had gone into the investigation and the citizen who had gone above and beyond to report suspected criminal activity to authorities.

“Our officers have put in a lot of hours, but it paid off,” Thornton said. “I can’t say enough about the hard work these folks do. And I can’t say enough about our citizens who are willing to get involved.”

As he always does, Thornton applauded the efforts of all residents who take the time to be the “eyes and ears” for their friends and neighbors, noting the importance of tips.

“It’s tips like these that help us catch suspects and, many times, recover items stolen from local citizens and those in neighboring counties. We live in a tough world, and it takes us all working together to make a difference,” Thornton said.