Bismarck police haven’t cracked the case of who broke into a Bismarck pet store earlier this week. But the orange kitten stolen during the caper has been returned to Animal Kingdom.
Baeylie Goetz, 9, of Sterling, transported the kitten in her light blue winter coat to the pet store at 1525 E. Broadway Ave. on Friday afternoon. Her grandfather, Blaine Goetz, had taken in the kitten on Wednesday after learning it was running through a Bismarck grocery store. Kathy Goetz, Blaine’s wife, brought Baeylie and her cousin, Travis Goetz, 9, to Bismarck to return the kitten.
An employee at Animal Kingdom reported at 7:40 a.m. Tuesday that someone had smashed a glass door worth $300, and entered the business sometime after 6 p.m. Monday. Items had been thrown around and desk drawers were opened. As officers began investigating, employees realized a male orange tabby kitten in a cage in the back room had been stolen, along with some change from the till.
The kitten had been at the store for a while and purred as soon as anyone touched him, manager Kim Leingang said. She said he had been sick and was being kept in the back room of the store.
Bismarck Police Sgt. Mark Buschena said the manager at Dan’s Supermarket, 835 S. Washington St., reported at 6:29 p.m. Wednesday that he may have encountered a kitten matching the description of the one stolen from Animal Kingdom.
The manager said someone told him at approximately 4:30 a.m. Wednesday someone had been trying to give away an orange tabby kitten outside the store. A little while later, a small orange tabby kitten was found loose in the store, Buschena said.
He said the manager reported Blaine Goetz, who was delivering Bessy’s Best milk, asked if he could have the kitten.
Goetz, of Sterling, said he thought a dairy would be a good place for a cat, but the kitten sneezes and has runny eyes, and he didn’t want to put a sick kitten outside. So, he kept it inside and gave it some milk.
“He sure is a playful little thing,” Goetz said. “He’s jumping all over the place where he’s not supposed to be.”
Someone in Goetz’s family read the article in Thursday’s Bismarck Tribune about an orange kitten being stolen from Animal Kingdom and wondered if it was the same cat, Goetz said. He said the family called the store, and it sounded like the same kitten, since the one stolen also had been sneezing and had runny eyes.
Kathy Goetz said Baeylie, who loves pets, had taken a liking to the kitten and cried upon learning it had been stolen.
Employees at Animal Kingdom started looking the kitten over after he emerged from Baeylie’s coat on Friday. They thought it looked like him, and they said they were sure after he started sneezing and saw the tears in his eyes.
Leingang said every time an animal has been stolen from Animal Kingdom, someone has either returned it or came back and paid for it. The kitten was the first animal stolen in a burglary, though others have been stolen during store hours. On several occasions, someone has been given an animal as a gift, then learned that a similar animal had been stolen and came in to pay for the animal.
“I honestly didn’t think this one was coming back,” Leingang said about the kitten.
Buschena said officers investigating the burglary were aware that the kitten possibly had been found. He said they will follow up on the information about a person trying to give the kitten away at Dan’s Supermarket.
Around the same time as the Animal Kingdom burglary, someone smashed windows and doors at Polar Package, 2150 E. Thayer Ave., American Family Insurance, 2110 E. Thayer Ave., and Lucky’s Bar, 2150 E. Thayer Ave., with a crowbar. Surveillance tape showed a man in a white sweatshirt, dark pants and a black ski mask smashing the windows on the businesses while he ran, then got into an older, brown, large four-door car.