NC deputies make arrests, recover equipment in multi-county construction theft ring

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Jessica Dawn English, Luke Adam Stafford, and James William Yates III face charges in a multi-county theft ring. (Buncombe Co. Detention Center)

BUNCOMBE COUNTY, N.C. (WSPA) – Deputies have made arrests in what they’re calling one of the largest recoveries of stolen property in at least a decade for the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office.

After making one arrest last week, deputies have charged two more people in a multi-county theft ring.

Last week, the sheriff’s office recovered hundreds of stolen construction items, landscaping and surveying equipment/materials from rented storage units in Candler. Deputies say a number of tools used to cut out catalytic converters were also recovered.

These thefts were primarily from construction and road construction companies, according to the sheriff’s office. 

A significant amount of additional stolen property was recovered this week at the residence where two suspects were taken into custody. The stolen property included thousands of dollars of fire equipment that had been taken from the Asheville Fire Department. 

“Thank you to our Property Crimes Detectives who worked long hours over the past 10 days to move the investigation forward and recover this stolen property. We thank the U.S. Marshals for their assistance in taking these individuals into custody yesterday,” Buncombe County Sheriff Quentin Miller said.

During the first phase of the investigation, Detectives charged an accomplice, Jessica Dawn English, of Marshall. She was originally taken into custody on Sept. 20 on a charge of Possession of a Stolen Motor Vehicle. English also had six outstanding warrants and was given a $30,000 bond and now faces more than 25 additional charges stemming from this investigation, deputies said.

Charges range from Felony Breaking and Entering, Felony Larceny and Felony Conspiracy. Her bond has been raised to $310,500 and she remains in custody at the Buncombe County Detention Facility.

James William Yates III and Luke Adam Stafford were taken into custody at the residence in Candler this week by the U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force, according to Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office.

Yates is being held on a $562,000 secured bond. He had 36 open warrants in Buncombe County related to stolen property, stolen motor vehicles and identity theft among other charges. Yates is now facing more charges related to this growing investigation into the theft ring.

Luke Adam Stafford was charged with Felony Breaking and Entering and was given a $20,000 bond, which he had posted. He now has 15 charges related to this ongoing investigation and is being held on a $90,000 bond at the Buncombe County Detention Facility.

Charges from this investigation are also pending in Transylvania, Haywood and Jackson counties related to this investigation, according to deputies. The sheriff’s office has executed multiple search warrants during the course of this investigation and additional storage units of interest have been identified.

This remains an active investigation.

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