An observant son driving past his mother’s house on Lee’s Chapel Road Tuesday morning thwarted a burglary and was the catalyst for the arrest of five Dunn-area men, two of them facing multiple break-in related charges.
According to Sheriff’s Capt. Eric Pope, Robert Sills Jr., was traveling by his mother’s home around 11:20 a.m. when he noticed a red Chevrolet Suburban pulling out of the driveway.
Suspicious because the vehicle was unfamiliar, Sills followed the it down Lee’s Chapel Road. That’s when the Suburban stopped and the occupants jumped out and fled into a nearby wooded area.
Sills called officers after discovering that four window-mounted air conditioning units had been taken from his mother’s house. Deputies, Pope said, responded to the area and set up a perimeter after finding the AC units inside the abandoned Suburban.
Officers located five men about an hour later in a cotton field situated between Lewis Iley Tew Road and Lee’s Chapel Road.
All five, Pope said, were taken into custody pending further investigation.
That investigation, a press release on the incident noted, led officers to charge the five men in connection with the Lee’s Chapel Road burglary. In addition, further investigation revealed that two of them were also suspects in another burglary, this one an Aug. 20 incident at 8425 Green Path Road.
Those charged were:
• Donald Oliver, 30, of 405 E. Vance St., Dunn, charged with 2 counts of breaking and entering, 2 counts larceny; and 2 possession of stolen property, all felonies;
• Patrick Jeremy Bell Jr., 23, of 605 South Magnolia Ave., Dunn, charged with 2 counts breaking and entering; 2 counts larceny and 2 counts possession of stolen property, all felonies;
• Ray Darnell Smith, 20, of 416 South Magnolia Ave., Dunn, 1 count breaking and entering, 1 count larceny, 1 count possession of stolen property, all felonies.
• Alexander Devonte Freeman, 21, of 410 South Magnolia Ave., Dunn, charged with 1 count breaking and entering; 1 count larceny; and 1 count possession of stolen property, all felonies; and
• Thomas Ralpheal Dawson, 26, of 5470 Fairground Road, Dunn, charged with 1 count breaking and entering; 1 count larceny; and 1 count possession of stolen property, also all felonies.
Oliver and Bell were each placed under $100,000 bonds, with court dates scheduled for Friday, Sept. 27.
Smith, Freeman and Dawson were jailed under $75,000 bonds, with initial court appearances Friday.
All five men remained behind bars at the Sampson County Detention Center Wednesday afternoon.