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Date of Issue: July 14, 2010

Thief hits wildlife center

Someone stole a donation jar containing more than $100 last week from a wildlife rehabilitation center on Bradenton Beach that feeds and medicates orphaned or injured animals.

Sometime between the night of July 4 and the morning of July 5, a thief found a visitor’s key outside the Wildlife Inc. center and stole the jar, according to co-founder Gail Straight.

Straight said they had just set the jar out for donations. Even worse, the thief kept the key, and so Straight and her husband Ed, who live at the center, replaced all the locks at a cost of $250.

“For three days I slept with pepper spray,” Straight said. “Nowadays I feel like if someone’s going to break in and steal money they do it for drugs and I don’t trust people who are on drugs.”

Before the theft, Straight kept a key outside for visitors, but now might leave the key with a neighbor instead.

Bradenton Beach police are investigating the theft.

Wildlife Inc. accepts native Florida animals, and is housing a bobcat, deer, owls, hawks, raccoons, opossums, deer, birds, tortoises and turtles.

“We’ve done 23 years of volunteering so someone can come in and steal the money we have,” Straight said.