#UNSOLVED: Opioid crisis fuels violent crime, recurring property crime
WHITEVILLE, NC (WWAY) — The Whiteville Police Department is looking for a few different people involved in violent crime and a recurring property crime.
Investigator Ron Guyton with the Whiteville Police Department said crime in the town is increasing and he believes it is because of the opioid crisis.
“Our overall crime situation in Whiteville and pretty much everywhere else I believe is driven by the opioid crisis,” Guyton said. Most of my property crime I believe is directly attributed to the users who are desperately trying to fill their habit.”
He said the violent crime is being driven by the dealers who are equally addicted to the easy money. Guyton said there is one property crime that has been happening over and over for a few months.
“I have a suspect, a couple of suspects that have been hitting coin operated machines,” Guyton said.
Guyton said the suspect is using a crowbar to take cash out of vending machines at Go Gas stations and other businesses that have vending machines.
“Actually goes after the dollar bill changer, just pops it out and rips it out and takes whatever money is in there,” Guyton said.
He said it has happened at least five times in Whiteville and at least twice at Go Gas stations in Shallotte. Guyton believes it is the same person every time, because the man has left a trail of blood in Whiteville and Shallotte.
“In reaching in, he apparently cut his hand, because there was blood inside the machine,” Guyton said.
Guyton said the suspect is not getting very much money and it actually costs more money to repair the machines than the man actually got out of it. He said the suspect is getting less than $20 from each machine, but it costs about $200 to fix.
Investigators are waiting for DNA results from a sample of the blood, but in the meantime, they need help identifying this suspect. Guyton said it is a white man in his 20s, about 5’8″, 5’9″, with a medium build and a mustache. He also probably has scars on his hands.
They are also looking for his girlfriend who can be seen on surveillance driving the car. Guyton said she is driving a Hyundai Sonata.
Meanwhile, Guyton needs help in a violent crime that happened on August 2, at the Econo Lodge on J.K. Powell Boulevard.
“This individual came in,” Guyton said. “He had his whole head wrapped in what appeared to be a t-shirt and was wearing gloves.”
Guyton said the suspect had a gun and there was only one clerk working at the time.
“She was behind the counter,” Guyton said. “He came in, pointed the gun at here and said, ‘Give me the money.’ She complied with him and just simply handed over the till and he left without any further incident.”
He said this case is more serious, because it rises to a much higher level of desperation. That is why he says he needs to get this person off the streets.
“Because if he feels he was successful at this, he can possibly do it again,” Guyton said.
If you have any information about either case, please contact the Whiteville Police Department or call 911.