HAMLET — A tag-team effort led to the arrest of a probation absconder with outstanding warrants from multiple departments suspected of stealing a vehicle.
According to the Hamlet Police Department, Lt. Donald Ray Morton was patrolling the area of Railroad and Spear streets Thursday when he saw an empty vehicle parked in the woodline.
Morton reportedly ran the tag and discovered the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office had it listed as being stolen from Dobbins Heights earlier in the day.
The RCSO called the owner to inform him the vehicle had been found and he headed to the scene, according to HPD officers. On the way, he reportedly saw the suspect — 24-year-old Stephon Jewlton Easterling — running down High Street.
Deputy Paul McDole and K-9 Parker tracked Easterling from the scene to where the victim had reportedly seen him and eventually to a home on Spring Street, where he was found and taken into custody.
Easterling already had outstanding warrants from both the Hamlet and Rockingham Police Departments.
According to police, Easterling attempted to use a stolen debit card to purchase two cartons of Newport cigarettes from the Alco Store No. 13 in Hamlet on Aug. 4 — before stealing them.
Easterling is also accused of stealing two cartons from the Alco Store #36 in Hamlet the previous day.
According to the Rockingham Police Department, Easterling stole a 2016 Nissan Altima from the parking lot of the Economy Motel.
Inside the car were the owner’s key fob with a bottle opener, wallet, suitcase, cash, cellphone, social security card, insurance card, driver’s license, and debit card.
That debit card is the one investigators say Easterling tried to use to buy cigarettes.
Another warrant alleges Easterling fled from HPD Officer Grantland Jackson on Aug. 15 when Jackson tried to serve him with the outstanding warrants.
Easterling has been charged with larceny of a motor vehicle, possession of stolen motor vehicle and misdemeanor larceny by the RPD; and possession of a stolen motor vehicle, attempting to obtain property by false pretenses and two counts of misdemeanor larceny by the HPD.
The sheriff’s office charged him with breaking or entering a motor vehicle and larceny of a motor vehicle.
Easterling is scheduled to appear in court Oct. 10.
He is being held in the Richmond County Jail under a $25,000 secured bond on the Hamlet and Rockingham charges, a $10,000 secured bond on the RCSO charges and without bond for a parole violation.
Records with the N.C. Department of Public Safety Division of Adult Correction have Easterling listed as an absconder.
Easterling was released from prison July 17 after serving five months for larceny from the person and breaking and entering vehicles, records show.
His parole is set to expire April 12, 2020.
Records show Easterling was first convicted of misdemeanor breaking and entering and larceny in 2012.
In March 2016, he was convicted of obtaining property by false pretenses and possession of a controlled substance from crimes committed to years prior. In May, Easterling was convicted of breaking and entering, larceny and larceny after breaking and entering.
His probation on those charges was revoked in June of that year and Easterling spent the next six months behind bars. During that time, he was also convicted of assault inflicting serious injury for an incident that occurred four days before he was locked up, records show.
Easterling went back to prison twice on violations during 2017.
All defendants facing criminal charges are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.