Man arrested on theft charges after setting buildings on fire, authorities say


A man has been arrested after the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office said he set buildings on fire and stole various items from cars in the Pinetown area of Beaufort County.

William L. Russ, 37, of Pinetown, was charged with first-degree burglary, burning of other buildings, setting fire to grass or woods, breaking and entering, two counts of breaking and entering a motor vehicle and four counts of theft.

The Pinetown, Bunyan and Bath Volunteer Fire Departments responded to a report related to an abandoned house fire that occurred on North White Post Road at 3:00 a.m.

The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office started to investigate the fire after authorities said they believed the fire was suspicious.

On Saturday morning, the Pinetown Volunteer Fire Department and the North Carolina Forestry Service were dispatched to a brush fire on North White Post Road.

Authorities said this fire was suspicious as well.

Residents saw the fire and described a suspect coming out of the woods near the fire and leaving the area on a bicycle, authorities said.

On Tuesday early morning, an elderly resident of North White Post Road authorities said that she heard some noises coming from her garage while she was sleeping.

Authorities said the woman saw a man standing at her door attempting to gain entry into her residence.

Once the suspect realized he had been seen, he ran from the scene.

While deputies were investigating the case, resident noticed someone had broken into their cars and had stolen various items like money, glasses, and phones.

Deputies said they received a tip from a local resident that led to identifying and locating the suspect.

Russ’ residence was searched and deputies said they found multiple stolen items from the car and garage break-ins.

Russ is likely to face more charges in this case, deputies said.

Russ was sent to the Beaufort County Detention Center and was given a $75,000 bond.

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