Images courtesy of Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office
“Possession of stolen property” is an enormous understatement. That’s the official charge Brent Nicholson, 51, of Pageland, South Carolina, is facing, but it doesn’t fully explain what he did: Nicholson stole at least 7,000 guns — some news outlets put the number as high as 10,000 — along with more than 500 chainsaws and 250-300 taxidermy mounts. The Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office arrested Nicholson and seized the property after coming to his home to serve an unrelated subpoena and finding the items.
While he did not appear to be trafficking the guns, officials suspect he had accomplices helping steal them.
Brent Nicholson, 51, of Pageland, South Carolina.
Deputies found the weapons in Nicholson’s home and a storage building, both on on the south side of the North Carolina/South Carolina state line. Hunters seem to make up the bulk of his victims: Fox News reported that most of the firearms were shotguns or hunting rifles, and that Nicholson likely stole the guns from Tarheel hunters and hunt clubs.
Some of the items were brazenly placed on Nicholson’s front lawn, despite their being reported stolen. The Charlotte Observer said hundreds of other firearms, including handguns, were found at a liquor store Nicholson ran with his father, and at Nicholson’s parents’ home.
Chesterfield County Sheriff Jay Brooks said the weapons cache was the largest he had ever come across — dwarfing his previous record of 50 found guns.
“And that was considered an arsenal,” Brooks told the Observer. He went on to say that, with the Nicholson find, “there were so many guns we quit counting after a while.”
Ammunition, crossbows, tools, and other stolen goods were found among the guns. The Observer reported that authorities filled at least four 40-foot tractor-trailers with recovered items; 20 agents from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division will help sort through the heaps of stolen guns, most of which appeared unused. Sheriff Brooks said it seemed that Nicholson had just been hoarding them, perhaps even buying guns from other thieves. Authorities (five sheriffs were on sight to witness the spectacle) hope this will help solve numerous cases of stolen property.
The amazing find comes less than a week after Nicholson was charged for the sell of opium and heroin in South Carolina’s Union County, adding to what Sheriff Brooks called a “lengthy record.” The investigation into the stolen guns is ongoing, with additional charges likely for Nicholson.
“There’s much more to come,” Brooks said.