Metal Thieves? Benches and Bleachers Stolen

BATESVILLE, AR -- Sometime between the end of April and the first of May the aluminum planks that make up the backs and seats of benches in the dugouts of Batesville baseball parks have disappeared.

"The first thing I noticed was a bench in a dugout dismantled," said Batesville Parks and Recreation Department Director Randy Palmer.

At least seventeen aluminum planks were taken.  Independence County Sheriff Keith Bowers told Region 8 News he thinks the sluggish economy could be a motive for the thefts.

"The price of metals these days, it's making people really bold.  To come to a city park and do what they did was very bold.  They had to disassemble the benches.  They had to take backs off these seats in the dugout," said Bowers.

Some of the benches at Fitzhugh Park are still without backs, and is seems they'll stay that way this summer.  One of the benches in the dugout for the girls' t-ball field has been put back together using wooden boards.

At the Batesville Recreation Complex on the other side of town a set of disassembled bleachers that had been damaged a few years before was stolen too.  These thefts will cause a few kinks over the summer for players and fans.  The city will have to replace the benches and the estimated cost for that is around $2,000.

"Everybody has a budget and you have to live by that and every time you have vandalism it takes away from what you can give to these children," said Palmer.

With things like this happening all around Region 8, Independence County is trying to make a change.

"We're trying to develop an ordinance that will address the metals business and make them more accountable as far as identifying these people and letting us know when something doesn't look right," said Bowers.

This case is under investigation.