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Two charged with stealing bleacher seats from parks

The Baltimore Sun

An Arnold man and woman have been charged with stripping the aluminum bleacher seats from three Anne Arundel County parks and selling the metal for recycling, Anne Arundel County police said yesterday.

Robert Edward Johnston, 33, and Cindy Joy Ward, 34, both of the 1500 block of Winter Berry Drive face three counts of felony theft each in the incidents from Dec. 17 to Dec. 21 at Arnold Park, Broadneck Park and Freetown Park in Pasadena, said Cpl. Mark L. Shawkey, a police spokesman.

Police suspect that the two might have been involved in a similar theft at Elvaton Park, also in Pasadena, and an attempted theft of bleacher seats at Kinder Farm Park in Millersville, both of which took place in the same time period.

Johnston and Ward were arrested after someone at Freetown Park called police about 11 a.m. Dec. 21 and reported that bleacher bench seats had been pulled off their framework and that a green pickup truck had just left.

Officers found a truck matching the description that day at the Maryland Recycling Center in Glen Burnie, with Johnston and Ward inside.

Police recovered 14 of the stolen bleacher benches, which cost the Department of Recreation and Parks about $700 each, said Mark Garrity, parks administrator for the county recreation department. He said some benches are still missing.

He said hand tools had been used to dismantle the bleachers from their support structures. The sections taken ranged from 15 to 18 feet long, each with three benches.

"Aluminum is not a heavy product, but it is a bulky product, and it is somewhat time-consuming" to steal, Garrity said.

Aluminum on the scrap-metal market can bring 50 cents to 75 cents a pound, potentially netting no more than a few hundred dollars for 14 benches.

Garrity said that because sports teams don't need the bleachers now, the department is removing the remaining bleachers from all county parks and will store them until spring activities resume.nicole.fuller@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Phillip McGowan contributed to this article.

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