An intoxicated man kicked in the door to the Town of Wrightsville Beach Parks and Recreation storage building on Sunday, Aug. 18, and discharged the fire extinguisher inside before stealing a 10-pound fire extinguisher from the Wrightsville Beach Public Safety Building.
Wrightsville Beach Police Department investigating officer, Sergeant V. Blanton, said Wrightsville Beach resident Ryan Loerch was caught on the security camera inside the first floor lobby of the public safety building around 3:20 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 18. Blanton said the WBPD discovered that he broke into the storage shed prior to that.
“It was mischief basically, didn’t steal anything but made a big mess,” Blanton said of the suspect’s actions in the storage shed. “Then in his intoxicated state he decided to walk over here and he came into the front lobby and elevator entrance area where we keep a fire extinguisher, a phone for emergencies and a defibrillator. He liked our 10-pound fire extinguisher, took it out of the holding cabinet and walked out the door with it.”
Blanton said it was obvious Loerch was intoxicated because the video footage also shows him stumbling and crossing his feet. He was also shown smoking a cigarette when he entered the lobby, she said.
House said the WBPD would continue to leave the lobby unlocked for public emergencies.
“We have to leave that door open downstairs because people need access to those things in an emergency,” House said. “We just ask people not to do anything stupid like that when somebody may really need one of those devices.”
Blanton said Loerch was charged with breaking and entering, and damage to property for the parks and recreation storage building, as well as larceny for stealing the fire extinguisher.
Loerch’s identity was unknown until Wednesday, Aug. 21, when Blanton said he turned himself in that morning with an attorney.
Another theft occurred later Sunday around 5:30 p.m. when Justin Dennis Lynch stole two sets of keys from beachgoers around Johnnie Mercer’s Pier. Using the remote keys, WBPD Det. Bannerman said Lynch found the cars parked on East Salisbury Street.
One of the victims went to check on the car and found Lynch inside.
Bannerman said the responding officers chased Lynch on foot to Pelican Drive where they apprehended him.
Lynch has been charged with two counts of breaking and entering a motor vehicle, two counts of financial card theft, three counts of misdemeanor larceny and one count of resisting a public officer.
Bannerman said the WBPD knows Lynch had co-conspirators and that the identities are known but could not be released because the warrants have not yet been filed.