Three years, three robberies, and a passel of terrified animals. That is what the kindly owners of an animal nutrition store on the border of Regent Square and Wilkinsburg had left as they again picked up the pieces from a smash-and-grab break-in Thursday.
The Animal Nature store on Forbes Avenue was held up at gunpoint in its first year open in January 2011 and again in July 2012. At 5 a.m. Thursday a man smashed its glass door with a brick and took the store's cash register. The robbery was reported two hours later.
The store's owners were once again left mystified and scared. The only connection to the previous incidents, police said, was likely the storefront's slightly obscure location, on an extension of Forbes east of the intersection with Braddock Avenue. It certainly would not be the money rolling in to the shop, which specializes in natural pet products and animal feed.
How to help the store
In response to the burglary, the Regent Square Civic Association and neighborhood resident Stephanie Rex are spearheading a fund-raising campaign to help the store.
As of 9:50 a.m. Friday, $1,125 had been raised through http://fundly.com/help-animal-nature-cover-costs-after-a-break-in#more-info toward a $2,000 fund-raising goal to help pay for damages and burglary losses.
"We don't have any spare money at all. Every dollar they're taking is from the animals, not us," said co-owner Rachel Lamory, as she reviewed video surveillance of the crime.
The video shows a middle-aged black male with glasses and a goatee pulling a dark minivan onto Forbes, with his face poking out the hole of a white T-shirt hunched over his shoulders. Clad in dark pants and white sneakers, he bounces a brick off an adjacent storefront, then succeeds with the glass door to the pet store.
Interior video shows him going through drawers at the front counter before making off with the register, as the two cats living inside the store scatter at the sound.
Officer George Kristoff with the city's Zone 4 station in Squirrel Hill said police did not have a suspect in the burglary.
The owners' thoughts Thursday were with the cats and other animals -- chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs -- that live at the store and those pet-owners bring inside.
"There are shards of glass all over the place. That's our big concern since so many animals come through here," said co-owner Nina Wolf. "It's not just people with shoes. We have paws we have to worry about."
One cat who lives at the shop suffers from feline leukemia, which owners feared could be worsened from the stress of the break-in. Other animals, including guinea pigs Dumbledore and Gandalf, were unusually quiet in the hours after the crime.
Annie Siebert: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1613. Twitter: @AnnieSiebert. First Published September 19, 2013 4:00 AM