Raptor Center incurs break-in

by Amy Olson

Burglars broke into the Raptor Center on Aug. 21, damaging property and stealing gift store merchandise, equipment and drugs totalling nearly $20,000 in value.
University Police Detective Charles Miner said the break-in occurred between midnight and 7:15 a.m. Miner said the burglar or burglars might have entered the building through a window in a laboratory, which was found broken.
University Police sent evidence to the Hennepin County crime labs for analysis. At this time, they have no suspects or motives.
Miner said the suspect or suspects stole a global positioning system used to track migrating birds, two pairs of binoculars, two spotting scopes, veterinary drugs and jewelry from the center’s gift store.
Miner said the burglar or burglars entered several offices in the building but did not take computer equipment or a video camera. Ron Osterbauer, associate director of the center, estimated the damage to office doors and the broken window at $4,000. Osterbauer said the detective who arrived on the scene said it was the worst break-in he had seen in 20 years on the University campus.
None of the birds were stolen or injured. Mary Beth Garrigan, the center’s communications coordinator, said she was glad the birds were unharmed. Before Garrigan came to the University nine years ago, she said intruders beat and killed several birds at the Como Zoo, where she worked at the time.
“What’s the point?” Garrigan said. “Leave the animals alone.”
Osterbauer said the center was missing about $4,400 worth of injectable antibiotics and a chelating agent used to treat birds suffering from lead poisoning. The missing equipment was worth an estimated $7,100. The center’s electronic postage meter, worth $2,300, was also missing.
The break-in occurred during the Minnesota State Fair. The fairgrounds are located one half-mile from the center on the St. Paul campus.
Osterbauer said the burglary has been hard for the Raptor Center’s staff and volunteers. The odd combination of items stolen has some wondering if the burglary was an inside job.
Garrigan said the burglars seemed to be familiar enough with the center to know where to look for the items they stole, but didn’t seem to know what they were taking. She said she was puzzled by the stolen drugs, which would be “worthless on the street.”
On the other hand, Osterbauer said the random combination of items stolen led him to think that the burglary was not committed by someone associated with the center.
“It’s really low when people steal from a nonprofit organization,” Garrigan said. Eighty-five percent of the center’s funding comes from donations. Osterbauer said some of the center’s volunteers are working to get a new global positioning system and other items donated.
Osterbauer said the center has a $10,000 insurance deductible. Miner said University Police were investigating whether the break-in was related to other burglaries at veterinary clinics in the Twin Cities.