Duke University Police arrested a Rocky Mount man Wednesday on charges of breaking into two Central Campus apartments and 56 vehicles at Duke.
Charles Mitchell Proctor, 44, faces 160 charges in connection with various property-related crimes on campus, including the apartment burglaries in January and dozens of auto break-ins over the past seven months, said Duke Police Lt. Greg Stotsenberg.
Proctor, whose criminal history includes theft and drug charges, according to police, is being held in the Franklin County Jail on $75,000 bond. He is charged with 56 counts of felony breaking and entering to motor vehicles; 41 counts of misdemeanor larceny; 52 counts of misdemeanor injury to personal property; eight counts of felony larceny; two counts of felony breaking and entering a building; and one count of injury to real property.
"He would go around and look into car windows in different parking lots and find valuables out in the open," said Marshall Thompson, Duke police investigator. "He would break the window and reach in and grab stuff -- men's wallets, backpacks, computers, GPS units, radar detectors, iPods, cell phones, stereos and CDs."
The arrest came after police sleuthing that included a review of scores of incident reports and collaboration among law enforcement agencies in several counties. Police are investigating whether Proctor was exchanging stolen property for cash or drugs.
"I'm proud of our investigations unit for sticking with this," said Duke police Maj. Gloria Graham.
The trail to Proctor began Jan. 30, the day the Central Campus apartments were burglarized at Duke. That afternoon, sheriff's deputies in Wilson County -- unaware of the burglaries -- were serving a search warrant on a house under investigation for drug activity.
As deputies prepared to serve that warrant, a man driving a sport utility vehicle pulled into the driveway, saw the deputies and sped away, abandoning the SUV down the road, police said. The man doused the SUV with gasoline but didn't have a light and ran away, police said.
"Inside that SUV was a tremendous amount of property," said Thompson, the Duke police investigator.
The cache included clothing with the Duke logo and other property, including a laptop with a Duke sticker. The Wilson County deputies logged on to the Duke University website and discovered a "DukeALERT" crime notification for the two Central Campus apartment burglaries that day.
The deputies called Duke police, and Thompson drove to Wilson County and determined that some property in the SUV came from the Central Campus apartments. Thompson began working with investigators from Wilson and Nash counties to identify a suspect.
Last week, the break in the case came when deputies in Franklin County pulled over a pickup truck that matched the description of a vehicle in connection with break-ins in Nash County. The driver turned out to be Proctor, police said.
During interviews with investigators, police said, Proctor admitted to the Duke break-ins.