A second suspect has been linked to a series of vending machine break-ins in Clinton in recent weeks — this man with a history of convictions for such theft — as police investigate whether the incidents are connected.
“The thefts were mainly occurring at each GoGas and Express Carwash on Warsaw Road (across from the Sampson Agri-Exposition Center),” Police Chief Donald Edwards said. “Over the past few months, we have had several drink machines broken into. We worked with managers at the businesses to secure some video and found during this time that we had a couple of different individuals involved.”
The second of those individuals was charged this week.
Robin Gillis, 56, of 331 Adam St., Fayetteville, has been charged with nine counts of breaking and entering into a coin-operated/currency machine and a single count of damaging a coin-operated machine.
He was also charged with felony possession of cocaine, possession of drug paraphernalia, resisting public officer and open container of a malt beverage. Additionally, he was served with out-of-county warrants on charges of habitual larceny, second degree trespass and driving while license revoked. Bond was reportedly set at $27,500 for those charges.
“We keep getting new charges, but to date it is near $95,000 bond,” Edwards stated of Gillis’ secured bond.
Gillis is listed as an “absconder” from probation/parole supervision in the N.C. Department of Public Safety database. He is still under probation following a late 2016 felony larceny conviction. He has a laundry list of convictions in Cumberland, Moore and Lee counties dating back to 1996, including multiple counts of breaking and entering — to currency and vending machines among them — through the years.
He also has been convicted of larceny, common law robbery, possession of stolen goods and drug-related charges, among others, court records show.
Gillis was apprehended Tuesday at Express Carwash on Warsaw Road by uniform patrol officers.
“He was found in possession of burglary tools, drug paraphernalia, crack cocaine and miscellaneous car cleaning or detailing items like you might buy from a coin-operated machine at a car wash,” Edwards noted.
He initially gave a fictitious name and date of birth, but Fayetteville Police Department helped Clinton Police identify him by his street name — “Carwash Rob.”
Clinton Police authorities are working with the vendors to determine the total amounts stolen and the total property damage.
“He was charged with felony break-ins because he has previous convictions for breaking into coin-operated machines,” said Edwards of the offenses, which are usually misdemeanors. “(Neighborhood Improvement Team) officers are currently working with agencies in surrounding counties with similar crimes to determine if Mr. Gillis was involved.”
“We do expect additional charges for the crimes that occurred in Clinton,” the police chief added.
Gillis’ alleged crimes mirror those for which another man was charged three weeks ago. A potential link between the two is currently being investigated.
That arrest, of a 28-year-old Clinton man, stemmed from vending machine break-ins at two GoGas locations in the city, specifically on Sunset Avenue (N.C. 24) and Southeast Boulevard (U.S. 701) in Clinton. He was charged with eight counts of theft from a coin-operated machine or device.
Those charges stemmed from vending machine break-ins that occurred on July 23 and July 29 at the GoGas located on Sunset Avenue. Of the eight machines, six machines belonged to GoGas and the other two belonged to Pepsi.
The case was handed over to NIT officers who, through investigation, the assistance of surveillance footage and information from the community, were able to close in on that first suspect.
“We are now working to determine if they are related in any way,” said Edwards of that case and the Gillis’ arrest. He noted that the two cases are “not currently related.”
Managing Editor Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 2587.