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Burglar got proceeds from Hawkins Humane Society's Saturday fundraiser

Jeff Bobo • Jul 22, 2019 at 6:58 PM

ROGERSVILLE — The person who broke into the Hawkins County Humane Society (HCHS) overnight Sunday went in for something specific and apparently knew how to get away undetected.

The HCHS celebrated its 30th anniversary Saturday with a “Fun Bash” fundraiser at the Rogersville City Park.

The event, which included live music, food, a silent auction and children's activities, raised a little more than $1,000 for the animal shelter. The money was locked in a desk drawer Saturday evening..

A Sunday night break-in

There was a cleaning crew in all day Sunday, and when the crew left everything in the shelter was normal. But the first staff member who arrived to work Monday morning found the office in disarray. The contents of one desk was on the floor, including an empty cash box.

Not only was the $1,000 from Saturday’s fundraiser stolen, the thief also took the shelter's $100 in petty cash and a DVR where all video surveillance footage is stored.

HCHS Manager Sandy Behnke said the culprit apparently had inside knowledge about the shelter.

“The target was money we raised Saturday”

“We have cameras that were installed, and they took the DVR box, but they left the monitor and the cameras,” Behnke told the Times News. “We have a computer on the desk, and I brought in a TV and DVD player for the monkey. All that is still here. The only thing they came in and got was the money out of a locked desk drawer. They pried that open and took all the money, took all our petty cash, went through all the drawers on one desk and didn't even go through my desk.”

Behnke added, “So this person knew where the money was and knew there was a DVR box that ran the cameras. The target was money we raised Saturday.”

The Hawkins County Sheriff's Office is investigating the burglary. Anyone with information about the animal shelter burglary is asked to contact the sheriff's office at (423) 272-4848.

“We needed this money pretty bad”

The money that was stolen would not only pay for pet food and cleaning supplies, but also medical treatment and the shelter’s spay and neuter program. 

“We have a little puppy that has to go to the vet tomorrow, one that's been on medication,” Behnke said. “We already run on a shoestring budget, and we needed this money pretty bad. This is taking from the animals' food and medical treatment and everything we do to keep this shelter operational.

She added, “It took so long and so much work to get this fundraiser organized, the work people had to do to get it going and then spend all day there. For someone to come in and erase all that work and effort is heartbreaking. I've been sick all day about this.”

Why leave money in the shelter?

It was mostly cash. There were four checks, two for $50, one for $100 and one for $25. The shelter posted on Facebook early Monday for anyone who gave a check at Saturday's fundraiser to cancel it immediately.

Behnke said, “People are saying, 'Why did you leave the money in the shelter?' We're not allowed to keep money for the shelter on our person. It was a Saturday evening when we got done with the event, so we couldn't deposit it in the banks. We are all devastated because the money that we made was going to help take care of these animals at the shelter. How someone could do something like this is beyond us. This is taking food out of our animals' mouths.”

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