Crime

Thieves raid non-profit Florida Keys Wild Bird center's two properties

A Monroe County Sheriff's Office detective interviews a woman outside Mission Wild Bird, the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center's animal hospital. The hospital and the rehabilitation center about a mile to the north were hit by thieves either late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning.
A Monroe County Sheriff's Office detective interviews a woman outside Mission Wild Bird, the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center's animal hospital. The hospital and the rehabilitation center about a mile to the north were hit by thieves either late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning.

The Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center and its affiliated hospital about a mile away were burglarized sometime between Wednesday night and Thursday morning in what leadership there describes as a “high-value, targeted theft.”

John Stuart, the center’s board chairman, said at least $50,000 worth of equipment, including an almost brand-new pick up truck, was stolen.

The raid comes a week after a break-in at the apartment of the center’s executive director Janeen Simon.

“We’ve been the target of some very vicious actions and we suspect they’re all tied together,” Stuart said. “There’s too much coincidence for them not to be related.”

Most of the items stolen from Simon’s apartment were jewelry pieces, Stuart said. Deputies told him they were surprised other things of value were not taken.

“They felt it was strange they went past high-value items and stole things that had personal and emotional value to Janeen,” Stuart said.

The nonprofit center went through a staff shakeup late this summer. Those loyal to the terminated staff and volunteers have been vocal in public and on social media about the firings.  

The center’s rustic property, at mile marker 93.6, has also been the subject of recent Monroe County Code Enforcement inspections that were initiated after receiving complaints from people who have publicly criticized the staff changes.

The manner in which the thieves stole the items in this week’s break-ins indicate someone with knowledge of the center and the mile marker 92 hospital – Mission Wild Bird – was involved, said rehabber Kayla Gainer.

“No one who does not know us would know where the keys to the truck were,” she said.

The thief or thieves broke into Mission Wild Bird by jimmying the backdoor open, Stuart said.

Taken were several computers, a $20,000 digital X-ray processor, a lockbox that stored medicine and a lab microscope.

“There is every indication that somebody knew what they were doing,” Stuart said.

And at the center, Stuart said the stolen items, mostly consisting of tools, were dispersed in specific spots throughout the property, meaning whoever took them knew where to look.

“After they took the tools, they made a beeline right to the office to get the relatively new pickup truck,” Stuart said.

Several Monroe County Sheriff’s Office detectives were investigating the burglary Thursday morning.

Sheriff’s Office communications officer Deputy Becky Herrin said it was too early in the investigation to comment. 

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