Van is stolen after NC diner workers mistake thief for new employee, deputies say

WBTV photo of the stolen van.

LINCOLNTON, N.C. (WBTV) — A man was arrested Tuesday, accused of breaking into a restaurant in Lincoln County and stealing the store’s van.


According to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, surveillance video showed a man breaking into the front door of the Home Place Restaurant on West NC 27 Highway around 3:30 a.m.

The man was reportedly in the business when employees arrived for work around 5:30 a.m. The sheriff’s office said the employees came in through a rear door and didn’t notice that the front door was broken into.

The employees told deputies they had thought the robber was a new employee.

Deputies say the wanted man placed food in his backpack.


The sheriff’s office said the man stayed with the employees for nearly 30 minutes before taking the restaurant’s van key and fleeing from the business in the van.

Surveillance image of the suspect. WBTV

Several hours later, the owner of the restaurant was on his way to a planned fishing trip in Burke County when he spotted the van and called 911. Police showed up at the scene and the alleged driver, 28-year-old Matthew Tyler Straughan, was arrested.

Straughan was charged with one felony count each of breaking and entering, larceny after breaking and entering, and larceny of a motor vehicle in Lincoln County. He was also charged in Burke County with felony possession of a stolen vehicle.>

If you have any information, you’re asked to call the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office at 704-732-9050.

Copyright 2017 WBTV. All rights reserved.

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