ALBEMARLE — In a brazen heist, two men allegedly broke into the shop of Joseph Burleson, a longtime Stanly County public official, stealing around $100,000 worth of vehicles, guns, tools and other items.
Burleson arrived at his house about 4 p.m. and noticed items that were usually stored in his trailer were stacked outside. As he investigated further, he noticed many more things were missing from within the shop. The shop on Burleson’s farm is used both as a place for storage and to socialize.
Cpt. Chris Huneycutt of the Stanly County Sheriff’s Office told SCJ that they were then brought on the scene and began “investigating the case just like we would with any other victim.” They tracked many of the items and gathered evidence from the scene, ultimately arriving at two suspects.
One suspect, also named Christopher Huneycutt but of no relation to the investigator, has been apprehended, but the other, Colton Lowder, is still at large.
Christopher Jay Huneycutt, a 34-year-old white male with a long criminal record, was charged with seven felonies, including breaking and/or entering, safecracking, felony larceny, larceny of firearm, break/enter trailer/aircraft, and two counts of larceny of motor vehicle.
Cpt. Huneycutt said they arrested Huneycutt “without incident at an address just off of St. Martin Road.” He is being held on a $200,000 bond, some of which is due to his prior record and probation status.
Many of the items have been recovered, but others, including tools and around a dozen guns, remain unaccounted for. The vehicles, like the trailer, ATV and lawn mower, were recovered in Davidson County.
“I would encourage all Stanly County citizens to put up cameras and have their property surveilled,” Burleson told Stanly County Journal. “If I would have had that, it would have helped matters a lot.”
Despite that, Burleson says he is very grateful for all the work law enforcement put into the case, and he is hopeful he will recover all his items, or at least have insurance cover their loss.
“The Stanly County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Jeff Crisco have done an outstanding job helping me,” Burleson said. “I really want to highlight Detective Jaman Smith. He’s gone above and beyond keeping me updated and working on the case.”
Cpt. Huneycutt agreed, saying, “Detective Jaman Smith has spent an enormous amount of hours on this case, as have all the other detectives in CID. But Jaman has absolutely gone above and beyond, and he should be recognized for that.”
Anyone who has information about Lowder’s whereabouts or any of the stolen property is asked to contact the Albemarle Police or Stanly County Sheriff’s Department.