(Memphis) A South Memphis baseball park helping hundreds of kids stay out of trouble was hit hard by a thief.
“In the last couple months, we have had about four break-ins,” said Larry Mells, who manages Jesse Turner Baseball Park on South Bellevue.
Mells said a thief drove into a storage unit, and “then [he] went in there and came out with what [he] could get.”
Police said 52-year-old Hilliard Grayson III took thousands of dollars of donated little league and high school sports equipment from the storage units, stripped the aluminum off the bleachers and batting cages and yanked the copper wiring out of the scoreboard.
Investigators said some of it was taken to a scrap yard.
Mells said 500 kids play ball at the park.
He said the park is for all children, no matter race, age or income.
Mells said that the bats and cleats the thief took, he gives to kids who can’t afford equipment.
“The kids would come down here and play. Whether they had a glove or shoes or whatever. We gave it to them right here, so those things we don’t have anymore,” said Mells.
James Jones lives near the park.
He said over the years, it’s kept him and his friends out of trouble.
“We used to come up here all the time. Play baseball games. Play basketball. It’s a good place for the kids. Everybody comes up here has a good time,” said Jones.
Mells said the damage will cost thousands.
Tuesday, he started fixing what he can, but said he does not know how he will replace the rest.
Grayson is facing burglary, theft and vandalism charges.
Police said they caught Grayson thanks to a call from a neighbor who heard him.
He is out on bond.
News Channel 3 stopped by the address listed on the arrest report, but the homeowner said he did not live there.
If you would like to donate to the park: http://www.tristatebaseball.org/