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STEALING BASES EARNS AN `OUT’

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Baseballs have been flying into Richard Murphy's house and back yard for months. So he stole the bases - and was called out by the arresting officers.

Murphy says he was driven to commit the crime by the almost daily sound of baseballs plopping into his pool, shattering ceramic roof tiles and smashing windows and sliding glass doors."We're going bananas out here. What else does it take to end this madness? Someone dying from a head injury?" said Murphy, who was arrested last Friday by police who saw him swipe the bags at the park adjoining his suburban Las Vegas home.

Murphy was charged with larceny, which carries a maximum penalty of $1,000 or six months in jail.

Murphy and his wife bought their $170,000 home adjacent to Pecos-Legacy Park in March 1994. Murphy's back yard backs up to center field on one of the diamonds at the park, which is used by a Little League.

Murphy says he's collected about 250 balls in his yard, despite a block wall, 35-foot-high net and row of pine trees that sit 219 feet from home plate.