Columbus Co. man charged with breaking into 50 vehicles, taking guns, cash, cigarettes, deputies say

Columbus Co. man charged with breaking into 50 vehicles, taking guns, cash, cigarettes, deputies say
Jimmy Stanley Thompson (Source: Columbus Co. Sheriff's Office)

NAKINA, N.C. (WECT) - Columbus County investigators say a Nakina man is facing dozens of charges after he was linked to at least 50 motor vehicle break-ins in the community since last June.

According to a news release, the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office began investigating a rash of vehicle break-ins in the Nakina community from June to March. During that nine-month period, 50 property owners reported having their vehicles broken into and items stolen.

Those areas included:

  • Old Tram Road, Nakina
  • Ramsey Ford Road, Nakina
  • Seven Creeks Hwy, Nakina
  • Manley Smith Road, Nakina
  • Ervin T. Richardson Road, Nakina
  • Pine Level Church Road, Nakina
  • MM Ray Road, Nakina
  • Poley Bridge Road, Nakina
  • New Britton Hwy East, Whiteville

Ten guns, approximately $4,000 in cash and coins, sunglasses, and cigarettes were stolen during the break-ins, officials say.

During the investigation, Columbus County detectives were able to identify a suspect, 51-year-old Jimmy Stanley Thompson, who they said would travel the listed areas on bicycle during early morning hours, leave the bike in a ditch, walk to a victim’s property, and search through unlocked vehicles.

“The suspect in these break-ins chose targets that offered high reward with little effort. All of the items he took were left in unsecured vehicles,” the sheriff’s office said in the news release.

On March 1, the sheriff’s office received a 911 call from a resident saying there was a suspicious person on their Seven Creeks Highway property. The caller said the suspect was riding a bicycle and carrying a large container.

Deputies responded and managed to locate the male suspect, who threw the container on the ground, left the bike in a ditch, and ran. The container reportedly contained a large quantity of frozen meats. Deputies say the suspect was later spotted walking on Seven Creeks Highway with wet pants and a muddy clothing.

Detectives found Thompson at his home on Happy Home Church Road in Nakina, where he consented to a search of the residence. Inside, investigators found five unopened packs of cigarettes that were stolen in a break-in earlier that day. They also found “evidentiary items connecting him to obtained video surveillance footage.”

Thompson was taken into custody and charged with 50 counts of breaking and entering a motor vehicle, ten counts of larceny of firearms, 26 counts of misdemeanor larceny, and one count of felony larceny.

He was booked in jail under a $278,500 bond.

“It is important to remember to remove all valuables from vehicles when you exit them. This includes keys, purses, wallets, firearms, jewelry, and cash. It is also important to lock your vehicle doors once you exit. These crimes were crimes of opportunity,” the sheriff’s office stated.

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