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Stolen Chatham County Sheriff's AR-15, ammo recovered, man charged

Westley Riddle (Chatham County Sheriff's Office)

The Chatham County Sheriff's Office has confirmed the recovery of an AR-15 rifle, two 30-round magazines, and body armor stolen from a deputy's unmarked vehicle parked in Sanford on February 20.

The vehicle was unoccupied and the deputy was on-call at the time of the theft Monday.

On Wednesday, Sanford Police arrested and charged Westley Riddle, 26, of the 5900 block of Edwards Road, Sanford, with one count of felony breaking or entering a vehicle, one count of felony larceny of a firearm, and one count of felony possession of stolen goods.

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Riddle was given a $15,000 secured bond and made a first court appearance Thursday.

"We couldn't ask for a better outcome," Chatham County Sheriff Mike Roberson said.

Roberson said once the crime was reported by media outlets, residents were quick to offer tips and information which ultimately led to an arrest.

ORIGINAL STORY: AR-15 RIFLE, AMMO, BODY ARMOR STOLEN FROM CHATHAM COUNTY SHERIFF'S VEHICLE

"The items were recovered swiftly thanks to support and participation from the community as well as from our law enforcement partners," Sheriff Roberson said. "We are happy to report that a suspect has been arrested and charged and thankful that no one was harmed as a result of this incident."

The Sanford Police Department led the investigation. Agencies assisting with the investigation included: the Lee County Sheriff's Office, Chatham County Sheriff's Office, Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), Probation & Parole, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The Chatham County Sheriff's Office is also conducting an internal investigation to determine whether any policies were violated during the incident and to see whether there are ways to help minimize such thefts in the future, Roberson said.

"Public safety is our primary concern," Roberson said. "And we hold our staff accountable for the safe handling, maintenance, and storage of all assigned equipment, including firearms."

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