27-year-old Dustin Lee Mullinax of North Lincoln Street in High Shoals has been arrested by Lincoln Co. Sheriff's Officers on two felony counts each of breaking & entering, larceny after breaking & entering and possession of stolen goods. He was also charged with one misdemeanor count each of breaking & entering a motor vehicle and larceny. Mullinax was charged in connection to the theft of lawn equipment valued at more than $8,000 from a business where he had formerly worked.
On January 3, Deputies responded a reported burglary at a residence on Prince Drive in Lincolnton. The victim told Officers he had been on vacation. When he returned, he found that his building, truck and house had been broken into. The victim runs a lawn care business and a number of items were reported stolen, including two 60-inch cut zero-turn mowers, two brush cutters, two backpack blowers, an air compressor and other items, including a laptop computer and about $200 in change.
Detectives learned that a neighbor saw a silver or blue van pull into the victim's driveway on Christmas Eve. Two people exited the vehicle and started loading equipment into the van and on a trailer. The neighbor was not suspicious because the van had been there before.
A former employee was developed as a suspect. Officers found that some of the stolen items had been pawned at area pawnshops in Gaston County. All of the stolen property was recovered, with the exception of the zero-turn mower and a utility trailer. A generator and an iPad were recovered from the suspect’s residence in High Shoals. The suspect reportedly gave a full confession.
Mullinax was arrested on January 6 and placed in the Harven A. Crouse Detention Center under a $50,000 secured bond. He'll appear in Lincoln Co. District Court on January 22, with Gaston County court dates on January 15, 24 & 31.
The investigation is ongoing. More arrests are possible.