A high school senior in Catawba County was arrested Wednesday evening and charged with larceny and burglary in connection with two home break-ins.
That in itself, say authorities is not unusual. "We see break-ins all the time," said Chief Deputy Joel Fish of the Catawba County Sheriff's Office. What is different about these cases is what the suspect allegedly took: women's underwear.
"Stealing ladies' undergarments is a lot different than stealing jewelry or something like that," said Fish. "You wonder what other intentions that person might have."
18-year-old Matthew Pearson was charged and later released into the custody of his parents. Investigators say Pearson admitted his involvement. More charges are likely in the case, they add.
The neighborhood is along Spencer Road northeast of Hickory. Since 2010 residents have complained that a prowler was on the loose and sometimes peeping into homes.
There's a stack of reports at the Sheriff's Office from all the times deputies responded. No one was ever caught and investigators suspect Pearson might have been involved in that, but he has not been charged in connection with it.
"I've seen lots of footprints outside my house," said Tim Killian who lives in the neighborhood. "I have a young daughter so I changed all the locks on the house just in case."
Other neighbors say they are relived that an arrest was made but they won't let their guard down. Most said the legal system needs to run its course but also hoped the young man could get some mental health counseling. "I'd get him some help," said Dorthy Sain.
On Friday, a judge ordered Pearson to wear an electronic monitoring device.