Gastonia stranger could be serial burglar

Posted by Jeff Rivenbark

GASTONIA, NC (WBTV) - Dozens of police officers in Gastonia were involved an intense search for a stranger who was found in a homeowner's bed Thursday morning.

Many are wondering if this man is Paul Beaty, a serial burglar wanted in four counties for allegedly breaking into several businesses in recent weeks.

Mike Fletcher called police to his West Franklin Boulevard home around 10:50 a.m.

He had just returned home and discovered a stranger sleeping in his bed.

The stranger asked Fletcher if he called police.  Fletcher told the man that police would be there within minutes.

"He grabbed what he wanted to get and went out the back window and ran through the woods and police pulled up then," Fletcher said.

Officers immediately established a perimeter along West Franklin Boulevard and Edgewood Road.

Cops combed the wooded area hugging Crowders Mountain by foot and used dirtbikes.  They even called in bloodhounds to assist with the search.

By 2 p.m. the search was called off after no one could find the man.

Police told WBTV they can't say for sure if the stranger was, indeed, Beaty or not.

Since there is a textile company right across the street which Beaty broke into a few days ago, many think it could likely be him.