Bertie BE ring busted

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 26, 2004

WINDSOR – After years of investigating and hoping for a break, law officials in three counties are tying up loose ends following an arrest Sunday night in what may be the biggest burglary ring in the eastern part of the state.

At approximately 6 p.m. Nov. 21, the Bertie Sheriff’s Office received a call from a resident who said he thought someone was trying to break into his home.

With quick reaction from a deputy in the area, a vehicle was spotted and followed down NC45 near Bloody Fork.

With other officers put in position, the 1997 white Tahoe was stopped and three individuals are now behind bars, two of them under $1 million dollar secured bonds each.

&uot;This is big,&uot; said Bertie County Sheriff Greg Atkins. &uot;This is something that has had us stumped for years.&uot;

Atkins said Norris Lenell Mebane, 41, of Sunnybrook Rd, Greenville; Michael Earl Barnes, 38, of Old Creek Road, Greenville; and Robin Lindell Brown, 38, of Roger Road, Robersonville were all arrested on the scene.

All three individuals were charged with one count each of first degree burglary, four counts each of breaking and entering, three counts each of larceny after breaking and entering, one count each of possession of stolen goods and one count each of conspiracy to burglary.

Barnes and Brown were both charged with one count each of possession of burglary tools.

&uot;We did a search of one of the residence in Greenville today,&uot; Atkins said. &uot;I am sure this will lead to many other charges in Pitt and Beaufort counties.&uot;

The rash of break-ins began as far back as 1996. What had law officials baffled was the lack of knowing where the next hit would come.

&uot;This has had us stumped for some time,&uot; Atkins said. &uot;We’ve worked this for years and finally, the only thing we could do was sit back and wait for them to get sloppy.&uot;

Atkins said the break-ins normally came on the same day of the week, at about the same time of day. However, it had become impossible for anyone in the counties that were being hit to know where the next incident would occur.

&uot;This was a professional, family run organization,&uot; Atkins said. &uot;We are estimating these three individuals have contributed to at least 50 breaking and entering cases in Pitt County over the last year and approximately 30 here in Bertie County.

&uot;When all is said and done, these individuals may be linked to as many as 300 breaking and entering cases that have gone unsolved,&uot; he added.

Each burglary had unique characteristics that played right into a pattern, stealing mostly money and leaving other valuables behind.

Pitt and Beaufort county authorities were contacted Monday, but no information was available at the time. Releases are expected from both departments this week.