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Soldier accused of stealing from North Carolina gun store

A Fort Bragg-based soldier was arrested earlier this week and accused of breaking into a gun shop in Spring Lake, North Carolina, just outside of Fayetteville. Although the motive for the overnight theft hasn't been made clear, the Iraq War veteran isn't the first to run into legal trouble after returning home.

The 28-year-old soldier with the 82nd Airborne Division is accused of breaking into the gun shop and stealing more than $68,000 worth of guns, ammunition and accessories. Cumberland County sheriff's deputies say they found him hiding on top of an old truck parked next to the business. He was arrested on charges of felony breaking and entering, felony larceny of firearms and possession of stolen firearms. The gun shop's owners said the business' roll-up door had been pried open about 2:45 a.m. Sunday and the glass door was broken. Another window was broken inside the shop to access nine semiautomatic rifles, seven semiautomatic handguns, ammunition, magazines and gun sights. All of the guns, which were some of the most expensive in the shop, have since been recovered.

An employee of the store said the soldier had been in the store several times, including the day before the burglary took place. But given the high quality of the guns, it's hard to say what he was planning on doing with them. One thing is clear, however: A conviction will lead to trouble for the soldier, who returned in November from a six-month deployment in Iraq. In addition to the freedoms anyone convicted of a felony loses, dishonorable discharge would mean the loss of his military benefits, including health insurance -- something he might desperately need if the theft of so many weapons was the result of mental illness.

Many veterans have returned home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress disorder, which can make adjustment to life back home extremely difficult and cause irrational behavior, including criminal activity. Whether or not he suffers from PTSD, this soldier will need effective legal representation to defend him, as does anyone charged with a felony. With the help of an aggressive defense attorney, felony suspects may be able to avoid the most serious consequences that come with a conviction for burglary and other property crimes.

Source: WRAL.com, "Bragg soldier accused of stealing $68K worth of guns," Bryan Mims, May 7, 2012

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