JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Jackson County Sheriff's deputies put the heat on a pair of alleged thieves who are accused of using a skimming device to steal coins out of an ice vending machine.
Sheriff Mike Ezell said surveillance video from Saturday night showed the thieves at work on the "Twice the Ice" machine on Washington Boulevard in St. Martin. Ezell said the suspects were using a skimming device to steal all the quarters from the machine while posing as if they were buying ice.
Ezell said two deputies set up a sting operation around that same machine Sunday night.
Around 10 p.m., Lt. Robert Blocker and Deputy Lon Ward said a truck driven by 21-year-old Walter Edward Franklin III, of Gulfport, pulled up to the machine. That's when deputies said Franklin got out and started bilking quarters from the machine.
Blocker and Ward moved in on Franklin and arrested him without incident. Ezell said the deputies found stolen quarters, the skimming device and a piece of paper which listed several other ice vending machines located across the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Ezell said 26-year-old Leslie Joann Blackwell, of Gulfport, was with Franklin in the truck, and she was found to be in possession of methamphetamine.
Ezell said a search of the truck turned up drug paraphernalia items, including hypodermic syringes and spoons.
Franklin and Blackwell are both charged with breaking into a coin operated machine and possession of stolen property. Blackwell was also charged with felony possession of methamphetamine.
Franklin and Blackwell are being held at the Jackson County Jail without bond.