LINCOLNTON, N.C. – Two people were arrested in Lincoln County after officials say they used a stolen identity to illegally purchase $21,000 worth of lawn mowing equipment.
Police say that Michael Williams Murphy, 60, and 35-year-old Latonya Denise Brown, both of Charlotte, went to Al Lane Motorsports on Highway 27 in Lincolnton on November 19 and ordered two Kubota mowers and a box scraper. Police say the pair ordered a third zero-turn mower.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police notified detectives that the truck the couple were driving, a silver Nissan with Florida license plates, was spotted in Charlotte on Tuesday. Detectives, deputies, and a DMV officer set up a sting operation around the location of the mower shop on Tuesday when police say Murphy and Brown were supposed to pick up the third mower that was ordered. Investigators say the stolen mowers were advertised on Craigslist.
Authorities were traveling to Charlotte on Tuesday to follow up on a lead in the case when they found the suspect truck on Highway 16. Police pulled the truck over and both suspects were arrested without incident.
Detectives say the stolen merchandise was being held in a storage unit in Charlotte and were returned to Lincoln County. According to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, one of the stolen identities used belonged to a retired 30-year police veteran in Texas.
Murphy has been charged with one felony count each of possession of stolen goods, presenting fictitious identification while committing a felony, obtaining property by false pretenses, identity theft trafficking in stolen identities, and two counts of conspiracy.
Brown was charged with one felony count each of possession of stolen goods, obtaining property by false pretenses, and two counts of conspiracy. She is in jail under a $30,000 bond.
Police say both suspects are being investigated for similar incidents in Greensboro, Cleveland County, and several other locations.