Man charged with string of thefts, arson
A Waynesville man faces at least 32 criminal charges, most of them felonies, in connection with a string of recent breaking and entering cases and a house fire.
Rusty Teajay Lindsley, 28, of 185 Park Drive, was arrested last week after evidence from a house fire led detectives to his home.
Lt. Chris Chandler from the Waynesville Police Department said detectives were inundated with breaking and entering cases over the past three weeks in concentrated areas near downtown.
Detectives believe Lindsley's crime spree began on Feb. 15, when three cars were broken into on Hazelwood Avenue. He is charged with five other car break-in as well.
On March 7, residents of a home on Highland Road came home from work to find their front door had been kicked down and their house had been ransacked during the day.
About $8,000 worth of property was stolen from their home, which the suspect had searched through from top to bottom. It appeared the suspect stole anything that seemed to have value such as iPods, guns, jewelry, flat screen televisions, credit cards and knives.
That same day, detectives collected video surveillance from a local business that revealed a man breaking into a vehicle and driving off in a red pickup truck.
On March 12, firefighters were dispatched to a fully involved house fire on Hamer Avenue, where detectives had been investigating several similar vehicle breaking and entering cases.
"Everything was so close together we thought it was probably the same suspect," Chandler said.
After the fire was extinguished at the rental home, the resident told police that some items were missing.
"It was obvious upon investigation that the house had been broken into, which immediately led to an arson investigation," Chandler said.
Evidence from the scene of the fire indicates that an accelerant was used to start the fire at multiple ignition sites in the home.
That same day, officers found the suspect's truck, which was owned by a man who told police he had let Lindsley borrow the truck for about a month.
A search warrant was executed on Lindsley's home, which was near several of the breaking and entering cases, and he was arrested.
Lindsley faces at least 24 felony charges including eight counts breaking and entering a motor vehicle, identity theft, three counts credit card theft, two counts obtaining property by false pretense, two counts felony larceny, larceny of a firearm, two counts felony breaking and entering, larceny after breaking and entering, two counts possession of stolen goods, second-degree arson and burning other buildings.
He is also charged with four counts misdemeanor possession of stolen goods and four counts misdemeanor larceny.
After taking a look at his background, Chandler found Lindsley has already served time for similar crimes in Florida and Virginia.
So far, detectives have found at least one item from each separate case, but much of the property is still missing. Although some of the items have been found in pawn shops, it does not appear he sold all of the stolen property, Chandler said.
He is scheduled to appear in court March 27.