County man charged in string of vending machine break-ins

Published 5:48 pm Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A Carter County man arrested earlier this month after police say they found him attempting to break into a vending machine now faces additional charges as investigators say they have linked him to four other vending machine break-ins.

Deputies of the Carter County Sheriff’s Office arrested Zachery James Philhower, 23, of 369 Garrison Hollow Road, Elizabethton, on Monday on warrants charging him with four counts of vandalism and four counts of theft under $1,000. The warrants against Philhower were obtained by Elizabethton Police Department Investigator Todd Hamm.

According to court documents, officers with the EPD encountered Philhower during the early morning hours on June 6. EPD Officer Samantha Maney reported finding Philhower lying down behind a vending machine at 701 West Elk Avenue near the GO Grocery Outlet in the Elk Crossing Shopping Center. Maney said Philhower was in possession of two knives, a pair of pliers, a small torch, and a head lamp.

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“Mr. Philhower admitted to officers he was attempting to break into the machine and take the money out,” Maney said. “Mr. Philhower also stated he was looking to et drinks from the bottom and was in possession of a Cheerwine.”

Maney placed Philhower under arrest and charged him with burglary, vandalism, and possession of burglary tools.

Following his arrest on June 6, investigators linked Philhower to four similar incidents involving vending machines in the same area.

On May 26 Tri-Cities Beverage reported a vending machine at 524 Railroad Street, near the car wash, had been broken into. On May 29 the company reported a second break-in to that machine. On June 1, the company reported one of their machines in the Ingles Shopping Center and one in the Elk Crossing Shopping Center had both been broken into.

Hamm said damage to the machine in the June 6 incident was “similar” to the other reported machine break-ins in the same area within the previous weeks.

“Due to the close proximity of the machines, the identical method of entry and damage, Mr. Philhower’s arrest while in the act of breaking into one of the machines, as well as the tools he had in his possession at the time of his arrest, he is charged with additional counts regarding the other machines,” Hamm said in the affidavit of complaint.

Philhower has been held in the Carter County Detention Center since his arrest on June 6. His bond is currently set at $6,500.