Several hundred dollars that would have been used to help abused and neglected animals has been reported stolen from a collection box in Mount Airy.
“It’s pretty sad, because this is something that goes to the animals 100 percent,” said Linda Mooney, director of Surry Animal Rescue, an 11-year-old organization dedicated to helping those in need.
Mooney said it spends about $15,000 toward that mission on an annual basis, which is raised through donations from the public. But its resources have taken a hit with the theft this week at Creekside Cinemas on East Bluemont Road.
While Surry Animal Rescue has donation containers at veterinarians’ offices, its main collection point is the box at the theater where patrons have been generous to aid the cause.
“They took the currency out, which we think is several hundred dollars,” said Police Chief Dale Watson, whose department is investigating the case.
Mooney said it is not unusual for donors to place $100 or $50 bills into the container, which “was probably two inches thick with change” at the time of the theft.
Officer J.C. Simmons, who is investigating the crime, said Friday that it is believed to have occurred sometime between 5:30 p.m. Wednesday and 11 a.m. Thursday, based on interviews with theater employees.
Mooney added Friday that the theater experienced power outages this week which caused security cameras there to be deactivated temporarily. During that time, someone apparently took the collection box into one of the movie-viewing areas, pried it open and emptied out the contents — except for 71 cents.
The loss of the funds means animals in the county will suffer, Mooney said.
Public Appeal Made
Officer Simmons indicated Friday that while all crimes are important to the victims, the theft of the animal rescue funds strikes a particularly sensitive chord.
“With something of this magnitude and with it basically being a charity-type deal,” he said, “we’re doing everything we can to talk to people and get the word out about it.
“It’s a big deal,” Simmons said, pointing out that recent problems reported at the Surry County Animal Shelter have brought the needs of neglected animals to the forefront.
Both Simmons and Watson said part of the city police investigation involves trying to appeal to the conscience of whoever took the money, or someone who knows the guilty party and is willing to contact authorities. “Someone may have seen what happened,” the police chief said.
Mooney said her organization’s position on this is, “we won’t ask questions — we just want the money back.”
Anyone who can help in this manner can call the police station at 786-3535, or Mooney at 789-2328. Her organization also may be reached via email at email@example.com. The organization’s website, at surryanimalrescue.org, details its efforts to help those in need.
“Maybe someone will come forward,” Simmons said of the appeal for information about the crime.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.