Man charged with slashing tires on forty-seven vehicles at Caldwell County Government properties

Carlton Brandon Couto

LENOIR, NC (July 17, 2017)…A Lenoir man has been charged with slashing the tires of 47 county owned and personal vehicles parked at the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office and Health & Human Services Building (HHS) at 2345 Morganton Blvd., Lenoir overnight.

Captain Brent Phelps of the Lenoir Police Department says 23-year-old Carlton Brandon Couto of 4535 Hartland Road, was arrested and taken into custody by a Lenoir Police Officer and a Caldwell County Deputy just before 4 a.m. as he was standing near the R.H.A. building at 2415 Morganton Blvd.; right beside the sheriff’s office and the HHS building.

Couto is charged with 47 counts of injury to personal property, simple possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia and is being held under $70,000 bond in the Caldwell County Detention Center.

Events of the night were reported as follows:

Caldwell County deputies responded to a disturbance call at 10 p.m. Sunday night to Couto’s home. After deputies left the home with no charges filed, the reports say Couto came to the grounds of the Sheriff’s office and Health & Human Services Building and slashed the tires of 35 County vehicles and 12 personal vehicles with a knife. Only one vehicle did not have all four tires slashed. Two of the vehicles also had rock damage to windows. The knife used in the damage has not been recovered at this time. It is believed that Couto was traveling on foot.

A deputy found the damage to the vehicles around 3:48 a.m. today and called Lenoir Police. As the Lenoir officer was arriving on the scene, he and another County deputy reportedly found Couto sitting outside the R.H.A. building with marijuana and drug paraphernalia in his possession. As Couto was being charged with the drug offenses, officers were viewing security camera video of the damage to the vehicles and determined that Couto fit the description, both personally and by clothing, of the person seen on the tape cutting the tires and damaging the vehicles in the two parking lots. Couto was charged with the damages around 6:50 a.m. No further information about security cameras will be released.

It will take several weeks to determine a full estimate of the damages caused to the vehicles, but it is expected to be in the thousands of dollars. Repairs have been underway all day and will take some time.