Police: Escaped inmate breaks into businesses, eats snacks

by: Mark Becker Updated:


SALISBURY, N.C. - The search continues Tuesday for an inmate who escaped from a minimum-security prison in Rowan County Sunday night.

The Department of Public Safety said Jonathan Dixon, 27, was serving a seven-year term for breaking and entering and that he disappeared from Piedmont Correctional Institution south of Salisbury sometime after 11 p.m.

"We found him missing about 4 o'clock this morning. What we're trying to find out is exactly how he did leave," said Todd Pinion, who oversees prison units for that part of the state.

Pinion said the search for Dixon included tracking teams with the Department of Public Safety and local deputies.

The prison unit is also conducting an investigation to determine how Dixon escaped.

"We're just trying to figure out did he go out a fence? Did he go out a gate? We're just trying to figure that out," Pinion said.

The minimum-security prison does not have surveillance cameras trained on the fences, so officials weren't sure Monday afternoon how Dixon got out.

After the escape, Dixon burglarized at least two businesses including the Department of Transportation where he stole a uniform jacket, according to police.

Police said the DOT shop shares a fence with the Piedmont Correctional Institution.

The jacket that police said Dixon stole has the name "Haywood" embroidered on it.

A boot print could tie him to a second break-in into a storage building.

Dixon went through desk drawers, ate potato chips and honey buns while sitting at the desk looking at the computer, according to a police report.

Deputies said they contacted the state K-9 unit and began searching for Dixon outside the trailer.

They found a boot print that matches the type of boots worn by the inmate.

They are relying on media and the local community to find him. They are also going to surrounding businesses.

"This morning, they came in here and put some flyers and posters out," said Wayne Houston as he ate lunch at Be-Bops, about a mile from the prison.

Houston said he lives several blocks from the prison and that neighbors have spread the word.

"Everybody looks out and watches out for everybody, to see what they can see," he said.

Prison officials said nothing in Dixon's record suggests that he is violent, but until he is captured, they're asking everyone to be careful.

He was serving a maximum of seven years for multiple counts of breaking and entering, among other charges, and was due for release in June 2017.

Knollwood Elementary, Koontz Elementary and Southeast Middle School remained on code yellow lockdowns Tuesday morning as law enforcement continues to search for Dixon.

Anyone who has seen Dixon or has knowledge of his whereabouts should contact local law enforcement or call Piedmont Correctional Institution at 704-639-7540.

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