Coast men caught while stealing aluminum bleachers from Boys & Girls Club, police say

Two Coast men caught in the act of dismantling aluminum bleachers ran into woods, where a K-9 nabbed one of them before the other gave up, police said.

Police received a call of suspicious activity Wednesday morning on Crusader Drive, where a Boys & Girls Club now operates out of the old Mercy Cross High School building, police Sgt. Joey Payne said.

The suspects saw police coming down the dead-end road and ran off into woods, abandoning a vehicle that held tools used to turn aluminum into scrap, Payne said.

Officers called for backup and surrounded the area, and a K-9 handler turned his dog loose in the woods, he said.

Benjamin Ellis had cuts on his face from running through tree branches with thorns or stickers, and a K-9 dog captured him, Payne said.

Larry Gest gave up, he said.

Ellis, 38, of Biloxi, and Gest, 53, of Pass Christian, were taken to the Harrison County jail.

They were each being held on a grand larceny charge with bonds set at $25,000 bond.

Students at the Boys & Girls Club use the bleachers to sit outside, Payne said.

Bleacher thefts are futile and are generally solved easily, according to a blog post at aluminumbleachers.com.

Unless, for instance, a police or a K-9 stop a crime in the act.

“You can’t just drag a 15-row aluminum bleacher to a recycling center. It’s got to be chopped up,” the website says.

“That takes a lot of time and effort. … You can chop up aluminum bleachers all day long (and it will take you all day long), but those seat planks are easily recognized and generally don’t resemble many other products.”

Recycling centers are required by law to keep track of scrap metal sales. That’s how most scrap-metal crimes on the Coast are usually solved.

Robin Fitzgerald, 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews

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