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Marine Mammal Care Center, haven for injured seals, burglarized

October 26, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
A break-in at a local animal center that rehabilitates injured seals and sea lions has left the shelter's directors shocked.

The front door of the Marine Mammal Care Center was shattered, and according to director David Bard, the suspect cleaned out almost $1,000 worth of merchandise.

"We have an alarm system so I have a feeling it was an opportunistic smash-and-grab," he said. "They took a variety of T-shirts, sweatshirts."

The thief tore apart a donation box and took the money. They also cut locks on storage sheds, but it doesn't appear anything was taken from there. Lori Olsen discovered the break-in.

"It's very scary," she said. "I didn't know if people were still here inside the building so I was a little frightened."

The facility treats dozens of injured seals and sea lions each year. There is also a classroom for children who come here on field trips.

"We rely on donations from the public, we rely on support from the public, so something like this not only going to put a dent in our fundraising but it's a little bothersome on a personal level too," said Bard.

A locksmith has changed all the locks in the building. Officials say repairing all the damage is going to cost them more than all the stolen merchandise. The theft is a big blow to the center's budget.

"It's very disappointing," said Olsen. "We're a non-profit, we don't have any money. We're here to try to raise money to keep our facility going."

Many of the stolen items have the Marine Mammal Center logo on them. Bard doesn't think the thief will be able to sell that.

"They won't be the toughest looking criminals on the street, I'll tell you that, with the penguin backpacks and the pink t-shirts," he said.

The LAPD is investigating the theft. Officials say the good news is the animals weren't injured and the center is open for business.

Anyone with information on this crime is asked to call the LAPD Harbor Division at (310) 726-7850.

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