CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Police have arrested a man and a woman they say were stealing furniture from the porches of south Charlotte homes - and were caught in the act on surveillance video.
Stephen Thomas, 34, and Joanna Olivieri, 50, were both arrested in connection to multiple cases dating back to late April. Thomas is facing two counts of felony possession of stolen property, misdemeanor larceny and misdemeanor possession of stolen property. Olivieri is charged with misdemeanor larceny and misdemeanor possession of stolen property.
“Chairs do have legs,” CMPD wrote in a release about the arrests, “but we know none of these walked away of their own volition because surveillance video footage of one incident showed two suspects remove furniture from a front porch of a residence.”
On Tuesday, one family who posted video of two people taking a chair from their front porch reached out to WBTV after learning they weren’t the only ones to get hit.
“Pure shock when it was on our front porch,” Adrienne Matthews said, describing the moment she says she caught two people stealing furniture right in front of her house.
“We heard the Ring motion alert go off on our phone,” she said.
Matthews watched in real time as her security system broadcast the images in the dead of night: two people who swiped a rocking chair inches from the front door.
“And they were loading it into the car and took off,” Matthews said.
Her husband gave chase, but wasn’t able to catch the thieves. Matthews says that the family dog, Reba, would normally have been in hot pursuit, but a blown out ACL had her sidelined.
To get the word out to the neighborhood about what happened, they posted it on the NextDoor app. Soon, a flood of responses came in.
“They’ve had at least six people who have reported the same thing,” Matthews said.
Neighbors had also posted their own videos of what they say are the same couple grabbing furniture out of their front yards. Matthews had to pull her other rocking chair inside, just in case the pair made an unwelcome return.
“I’ve noticed when I posted it, that they usually take everything on the front porch,” Matthews said.
Many residents were worried the thieves would move on to other, more serious crimes.
“Who knows what will be next,” Matthews said, “if they find out that the rocking chair business is not that lucrative.”
There is no word on what the duo who took the furniture was allegedly doing with it, but many pieces were recovered, giving CMPD’s South Division the appearance they were having a sale.
“The front porch of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s South Division may look more like a consignment shop right now, but that’s because they recovered property stolen in numerous cases,” CMPD wrote in the release, along with a picture of the furniture in front of the department.
Thursday, some were joking that CMPD’s South Division headquarters was looking more like a consignment shop than police station, with several chairs, tables, rugs, and other outdoor furniture waiting to be picked up by their rightful owners.
“Who would’ve thought that they really could catch the guy, and that he still had all the furniture,” Beth Schindler said. “That’s kind of dumb, really.”
Police say the community’s assistance was “a crucial step” in solving the case, and they’re asking for that help to continue as they investigate. Police say more charges from similar cases are expected.
Anyone with further information about the incidents, suspects or other cases is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.