Police Arrest Two More in Golf Club Thefts
Pinehurst police have arrested two more suspects in connection with a string of thefts of golf clubs that now spans several counties and at least two states.
Matthew William Crane, 24, and Nicole Leigh Russell, 23, both of Vass, are charged with larceny and possession of stolen goods. Police say Crane, Russell and two other men — Kevin Patrick Gallagher, 21, and Zachery David Laird, 27 — are responsible for thefts from at least eight different golf courses, including Pinehurst Country Club and Hyland Golf Club in Southern Pines and courses in Durham, Cary, Raeford and Myrtle Beach, S.C.
“We can put all four of them with the clubs,” said Pinehurst police Capt. Floyd Thomas, “actually stealing the club, being part of the thefts or being in possession of stolen goods.”
Gallagher and Laird were arrested last week. Gallagher is facing two counts of felony larceny and two counts of possession of stolen goods. Laird is facing a charge of felony larceny, possession of stolen goods, driving while impaired and driving left of center. Laird is a former caddie at Pinehurst Resort, police said.
Two anonymous tips from people who read a story on thepilot.com that indicated police had warrants out for Gallagher and Laird led to their arrest.
The big break in the case came last weekend when a landlord at Tanglewood Apartments called police after apparently finding drugs and/or drug paraphernalia in a vacant apartment.
A Southern Pines officer found 10 golf bags and several golf-related items in the apartment and called Pinehurst police. The suspects apparently stole four sets of clubs from Pinehurst Resorts in a two separate incidents June 16 and 20.
“They simply would go down to the course, act like they belonged there and then hop in the golf carts,” Thomas said.
Once in the cart, they would drive it to a location where they could unload the items into a vehicle and drive away, he said.
After stealing the clubs, Thomas said the suspects sold them to Golf Augusta in Southern Pines and Play it Again Sports in Aberdeen and Fayetteville.
In addition to thousands of dollars worth of golf equipment missing from the four bags, the victims reported two cell phones, an HD video camera and two watches missing.
Thomas said police have not located all the missing items, and have not yet discovered the owners of all the bags they found in the abandoned apartment.
The investigation is ongoing and more arrests are possible, he said.
Contact Tom Embrey by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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