Animal center hit by burglars

Second incident in two months

For the second time in less than two months, thieves broke into Rancho Santa Fe’s Helen Woodward Animal Center. On Jan. 4 around 11:20 p.m., the burglars broke into the center’s PAWSitively Pets retail store and made off with $1,514 in cash plus a handful of checks.

The thieves shattered the glass door of the shop after ripping the center’s alarm system out of the wall. Luckily, cats and kittens in nearby cages, were unharmed.

It’s still unknown what kind of repair costs the center faces to replace the alarm system, glass door and repair damages, according to John Van Zante, animal center spokesman.

“It makes me mad and it makes me sad,” said Van Zante, who has been with at the center for 18 years. “It confuses me how somebody could think to do damage and take money from a non-profit animal center.”

The animal center was last hit on Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11. Thieves broke into the therapeutic riding building and stole a portable radio off someone’s desk, a laminating machine and a Christmas present meant for an employee’s husband.

They entered by breaking a window, Van Zante said.

Thoughtless crime

On Jan. 4, it appears the thieves came in through a cut window screen in the main office building. Traveling through the building, they also kicked down the door of one office.

It appears they then came upon the retail center, which Van Zante said rarely has as much as $1,500 in the register. It just so happened that the center completed a number of adoptions in the holiday week and people had loaded up on pet supplies from the shop.

“It’s obvious that the people who did this have no concern for the people and animals we serve,” said Mike Arms, president of Helen Woodward. “They don’t care about how it affects others who have greater need. This is about their greed.”

While an alarm was sounded, security officers searched the area but found no sign of foul play. The alarm sounded twice more before the thieves disabled it, safety manager John Toro said.

Van Zante said two generous companies have come forward offering to donate a new security system to the center.

Patrons whose checks were stolen were contacted about canceling their checks. Van Zante said some paid back the check amount plus a little extra to help with the recovery costs.