Man accused of Walmart thefts in Wake, Chatham counties, two sought

rgallagher@newsobserver.comAugust 22, 2013 

James Dranell Branch


— Police in Fuquay-Varina and Holly Springs and sheriff’s deputies in Chatham County have charged a Henderson man with stealing or trying to steal thousands of dollars worth of electronics from Walmart stores in the two towns and a new store in northern Chatham County, and they say thefts from other Walmarts in central North Carolina could push the total over $150,000.

James Dranell Branch, 26, of 911 Bridges St. was served Wednesday at the Wake County Detention Center with warrants charging him with 10 counts of felony larceny, two counts of attempted larceny, three counts of felony conspiracy, misdemeanors and being a habitual felon.

Police also are looking for Damien L. Bullock, 20, and Christopher Eugene Bullock, 29, also of Henderson, who were named in warrants as conspirators with Branch.

Chatham officials have sworn out warrants charging the Bullocks with two counts of felony larceny, shoplifting concealment of goods and conspiracy to commit felony larceny, Capt. Doug Stuart said Thursday.

Branch and the Bullocks are related, Stuart said.

The Walmart incidents in Wake County ranged from March 26, when Fuquay-Varina police say Branch conspired with another man and was able to defeat an anti-shoplifting device to July 29.

In Chatham County, investigators said the three men they said hit the Walmart on U.S. 15-501 near the Orange County line on June 23 and July 24 for merchandise worth more than $10,000.

Both incidents happened between 1:30 and 3:30 a.m., Stuart said.

Stuart also said the investigation included police in Roxboro, adding that police “believe the trio is linked to multiple larcenies from various Wal-Mart stores across the state, with the total cash value of above $150,000.”

A request for public help in identifying the men, issued Monday by Chatham deputies along with surveillance pictures, helped police in the two counties connect their cases, Stuart said.

“I appreciate the teamwork and assistance of all the law enforcement agencies and media outlets working together to solve this string of crimes,” Chatham Sheriff Richard Webster said in a statement.

On April 4, Holly Springs police charged, Branch took “several digital cameras and laptops computers worth $8,736 from a Walmart there.

On July 24, Fuquay-Varina police charged that Branch was back in their town, taking 29 iPods from the Walmart.

Five days later, Holly Springs police charged, Branch and two other men tried to steal an unspecified number of tablet and notebook computers.

Branch was convicted June 26 in Granville County of several misdemeanor larceny and trespassing charges and was put on 18 months’ probation.

He was convicted on larceny and assault felonies in Vance County and served about 14 months in prison.

Branch was being held in Wake County lieu of $97,600 bail.

Gallagher 919-829-4572

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