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Yankees add security to prevent theft at Stadium

9/17/2008 - New York Yankees

NEW YORK -- Yankee Stadium is going, going -- just not yet gone.

The Yankees are working with Major League Baseball, the New York Police Department, and federal and state agencies to ensure fans don't walk away with pieces of the 85-year-old ballpark during the final five regular-season games.

The enlarged security force, made up of plain-clothed and uniformed officers, rivals the details used during past postseasons in the Bronx, NYPD Sgt. Lenny Tobie said before the Yankees played the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday.

"Providing a safe and enjoyable stadium atmosphere is our top priority," Yankees spokesman Jason Zillo said. "With the cooperation and support of so many throughout the law enforcement community, the Yankees look forward to celebrating these historic games with their fans in the manner they and the building deserve."

The Yankees are moving into a $1.3 billion ballpark across the street next season, and the team is negotiating a sale of memorabilia from the House that Ruth Built with New York City, which owns the stadium.

Sold-out crowds of more than 50,000 have been arriving earlier than usual to get a final glimpse at Monument Park during what is likely the final week of baseball at the stadium -- the Yankees could be eliminated from playoff contention before Sunday's home finale.

There have been about a dozen incidents where fans were caught trying to take a piece of the stadium. Patrons have unscrewed seats from their concrete moorings, pried the numbers off seatbacks, the cover to a floor drain and even a toilet seat, Tobie said.

During Tuesday night's game, the Yankees began running a public address announcement warning fans not to pilfer from the park:

"The Yankees are asking all fans to share in this memorable time in a respectful manner. Damaging the stadium and/or attempted theft of stadium property is a crime, and violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

The Mets have begun a sale of items from Shea Stadium, which also is owned by the city and closing after the season.