Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Crime notebook: Two men charged with taking Venus flytraps; arrest in Carolina Beach thefts from vehicles

The famously rare carnivorous plants are native only to this part of the globe. Pictured here is a family of flytraps at the Rehder garden (with the one to the far left enjoying a meal). Photo by Ben Brown.
The famously rare carnivorous plants are native only to this part of the globe. Pictured here is a family of flytraps at the Rehder garden (with the one to the far left enjoying a meal). Port City Daily staff photo.

Brunswick County

Two men were arrested after allegedly taking plants from Orton Plantation, including the rare and often poached, Venus Flytrap.

Scottie Gerome Stevenson, 44, and David Joel Lewis, 23, were each charged with one count of felony taking Venus Flytraps, one count of second-degree trespassing, and 149 counts of misdemeanor taking of certain wild plants from land, according to Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office Spokeswoman Emily Flax.

A staff member notified a deputy working security at the plantation of two suspicious individuals seen walking on the Orton Planation property, 9141 Orton Road SE in Winnabow, Saturday afternoon wearing backpacks, Flax said.

“Our deputies contacted our special ops unit in an attempt to have a canine track [the suspects]. However, that was unnecessary as the suspects emerged from the woods without their backpacks on,” Flax said. “The special ops deputy had his canine perform an article search and located the backpacks containing the plants.”

The two suspects were arrested on the Orton Plantation property, Flax said. According to arrest warrants, both Stevenson and Lewis are charged with illegally taking Venus flytraps and pitcher plants from the property.

Venus flytraps are rare, carnivorous plants that have been threatened by poaching and loss of habitat. The plant is only found naturally within a 60-mile radius of the Wilmington area. A new law was passed by the N.C. General Assemble that took effect on Dec. 1, 2014, making it a Class H felony to poach the plant (up from the original misdemeanor status), a crime now punishable by up to 25 months in prison.

Read related story: Conservation groups praise felony protection for Venus flytraps

The plants have been returned to Orton Plantation where they were counted by a resident horticulturist, Flax said. Scottie, and Lewis, both of Bolivia, were booked at the Brunswick County Detention Center under $1 million secured bonds.

Scottie Gerome Stevenson
Scottie Gerome Stevenson
David Joel Lewis
David Joel Lewis






Carolina Beach

Zachary Chase Thomspon
Zachary Chase Thomspon

Detectives with the Carolina Beach Police Department have arrested a suspect in connection with a string of vehicular breaking and entering cases in the town earlier this month.

Zachary C. Thompson, 19, was arrested at the Buccaneer Motel in the 200 block of Cape Fear Boulevard on Friday, according to a notice from the town on Monday. Thompson was reportedly staying at the hotel at the time of his arrest.

Thompson was the focus of an ongoing investigation into several vehicle breaking and entering incidents reported on Nov. 10, according to Lt. Dan McCullough, chief of detectives at the Carolina Beach Police Department. Investigators pinpointed the suspect at the hotel by working with probation officers. Thompson was reportedly on probation at the time of his arrest.

The vehicles involved in the incidents were all located in the Carolina Beach area. The incidents were reported by 23 victims in the area from Olde Mariners Way to 7th Street and Monroe Avenue, and into the business district of the town, McCullough said. Twelve of the vehicles had items taken from them.

Through their ongoing investigation, detectives have recovered $500 worth of property that was taken from the vehicles, McCullough said.

Thompson has been charged with 23 counts of felony vehicle breaking and entering and 12 counts of misdemeanor larceny. He was booked at the New Hanover County jail under a $100,000 secured bond.


A 30-year-old man was robbed of his wallet, cell phone and car early Monday morning.

The victim was parked in the 800 block of South Eight Street, where a black male suspect armed with a silver handgun robbed him just before 4 a.m., according to Wilmington Police Department Spokeswoman Cathryn Lindsay.

The suspect — described as a black male between the ages of 20 and 25 years old with dreadlocks — reportedly approached the victim’s window attempting to sell the victim drugs, Lindsay said. But when the victim refused, the suspect reportedly pulled out a gun and ordered the victim to get out of the vehicle.

A second black male suspect in a Chrysler Picasa pulled up and blocked the victim’s vehicle, Lindsay said. The suspect got out of the Chrysler and took the victim’s wallet and cell phone. The other suspect then got into the victim’s burgundy 2004 Mercedes CLK 320 and both cars left the area.

Police were able to locate the victim’s vehicle, but the investigation is ongoing, Lindsay said.

Gunman robs Wrightsville Avenue gas station

Wilmington police are investigating an armed robbery at a gas station convince store on Saturday.

A gunman robbed a Scotchman store at 5200 Wrightsville Ave. at about 04:17 a.m., Lindsay said. The suspect demanded money from the store clerk and ran from the area headed west.

The suspect is described as a tall black man who wore black clothing and a tan bonnie hat.

These investigations are ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Wilmington Police Department at 910-343-3609 or Text-A-Tip to CRIMES. Start your message with Tip708, then type your tip.

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