Tristan Matthew Zammit, accused when he was 17 in 2013 of setting a fire that did $500,000 in damage to a Cary Parkway culvert, was arrested twice this week on charges of breaking into cars in Cary.
Cary police arrested Zammit, now 19, on Monday. Wednesday, they went to the Wake County Detention Center, where Zammit was being held, and added six more charges, and Zammit’s bail rose to $560,000.
Cary police also had charged him with car-breaking on July 15.
In April, Zammit was convicted of a felony drug-possession charge that Apex police brought in August 2014. A judge suspended Zammit’s sentence and put him on probation for 18 months.
That was Zammit’s first arrest after being charged with setting a grass fire in March 2013 that spread to tar inside the roadway culvert and weakened the structure enough that state transportation crews had to rebuild it.
Police said at the time that they got a tip about a name written in the soft tar after the fire that led them to Zammit. They said then that he admitted to setting it.
Zammit had been charged the year before, when he was 16, with breaking and entering and larceny and assaulting a school employee.
A month after the 2014 drug arrest in Apex, police there charged him with driving while impaired.
In February this year, Raleigh police pulled Zammit over on several traffic violations, including driving on the wrong side of Western Boulevard. An officer said he smelled marijuana, and Zammit was charged with felony possession of marijuana and of 20 Xanax pills and with maintaining a car to keep and sell drugs.
Those charges are pending. In March, Zammit was arrested on a warrant a judge issued after Zammit failed to keep a court date on the traffic charges.
Last month, Cary police charged Zammit with breaking into cars. He was free on bail when police arrested him Monday.
When charged this week and in July, Zammit’s address was listed as 101 Sweetspire Way in Cary. When Raleigh police arrested him in February, his address was listed as 119 Anterbury Drive in Apex. He was living at 104 Brownfield Court in Cary at the time of the fire.
Investigators said Thursday that the charges against Zammit this week did not involve a string of 14 car and garage break-ins on Aug. 18.
Those incidents prompted officials to renew warnings to residents to close car windows, lock the doors and put valuables out of sight. As with the 14 break-ins, two car thefts and a burglary, the victims of car incidents have left the vehicles or their garages and sheds unlocked.
North Carolina law does not distinguish between damaging a car to get in and just opening an unlocked one, but police always urge owners not to make thefts easy for criminals.