Sampson Independent

Man arrested in string of GoGas thefts

A Clinton man has been arrested in a rash of thefts from vending machines at the two GoGas locations in the city, even as Clinton Police officials continue to investigate the case for additional charges.

Justin Austin Woods, 28, of 501 Stetson St., Clinton, has been charged with eight counts of theft from a coin-operated machine or device, a misdemeanor offense. Woods was arrested Tuesday at a residence on West Boney Street by officers conducting an area check. They spotted Woods, and were aware of the outstanding warrants against him, which were reportedly issued the previous day, on Monday.

There were reports of coin operated machines that had been broken into at multiple locations, specifically the GoGas locations on Sunset Avenue (N.C. 24) and Southeast Boulevard (U.S. 701) in Clinton.

The incidents were assigned to the Clinton Police Department’s Neighborhood Improvement Team. Through investigation, with the assistance of surveillance footage and information from the community, NIT detectives identified Woods as one of the suspects.

Woods was given $10,000 secured bond for the eight offenses against him. His court date was set for Aug. 20.

The eight charges stem from the coin machine break-ins that occurred on July 23 and July 29 at the GoGas located at 1424 Sunset Ave. Of the eight machines, six machines belonged to GoGas and the other two belonged to Pepsi.

A second male suspect has not yet been identified, and still more charges may be forthcoming in other thefts, police officials said.

“There are others that NIT is still investigating that occurred at GoGas on Southeast Boulevard,” said Assistant Chief of Police Anthony Davis. “The cases are still under review and more charges are pending.”

Davis praised detectives and shared his thanks to the community.

”The community involvement played a big role in assisting detectives with this investigation,” said Davis,. “We couldn’t do our job efficiently without the support from our community.”

Woods has a history of convictions in Sampson County, including on counts of assault on a female, simple assault, second degree trespass, possession of firearm by felon and possession of a Schedule II controlled substance, according to the N.C. Department of Public Safety. He served six months in prison for the drug conviction in July 2015, his most recent, court records show.

More charges pending; second suspect sought

By Chris Berendt

Managing Editor Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 2587.