4 charged in break-ins after Florence evacuations, police say

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Brunswick County sheriff’s investigators made what appear to be the first arrests in connection with break-ins after Tropical Storm Florence coastal evacuations.

The sheriff’s office posted on Facebook Friday morning that its deputies “detained several individuals throughout the night for felony B&E.” Florence was still a hurricane at that point.

“For anyone looking to take advantage of vulnerabilities during this storm….be advised BCSO deputies are still on duty!” the sheriff’s office posted. “You will be arrested!”

The post has drawn 2,300 likes and 1,700 shares in 17 hours..

The sheriff’s office also posted a story on Facebook by TV station WWAY that said four people were arrested overnight in connection with break-ins of cars and a convenience store.

Dashaun Smith, 25, and Brandon Bellamy, 30, were jailed on charges of possession of burglary tools and breaking and/or entering after a break-in at Tommy’s Mini Mart in Leland, according to WWAY. Devin Harris, 21, and Justice Harris, 18, were jailed on a charge of breaking and/or entering a vehicle, the station reported.

Social media reacted angrily to the break-ins, which occurred after coastal evacuations.

“anyone caught B&E during this storm should be put on a chain gang & made to work cleaning up the aftermath of the storm instead of just being keep in jail !!!!!” posted Billy Russ.

“This is so sad!!!! I mean really take advantage of people while they are vulnerable!!!” Rita Almond posted. “Thank you to BCSO for working through this storm and keeping us safe”

In the Wake County town of Wendell, meanwhile, Perry’s Gun Shop posted photos to Facebook of law enforcement outside the store, reporting an attempted break-in early Friday. Police are still investigating the case, the gun shop posted.

“Someone decided at 2 a.m. to get an early jump on the looting,” the shop wrote in the post.

“They tried to break into a storage room full of cardboard boxes,” the gun shop posted. “We offer boxes to our employees and almost anyone who needs them—there’s no need to break in at 2am during a hurricane for a room full of cardboard boxes.”

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067; @jmarusak