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Heartless Thieves Pilfer Animal Charity Van In Queens

Police were searching Wednesday night for heartless thieves who stole hundreds of dollars in cash and medication from a New York City animal charity's van. (credit: CBS 2)

Police were searching Wednesday night for heartless thieves who stole hundreds of dollars in cash and medication from a New York City animal charity’s van. (credit: CBS 2)

hazelsanchez Hazel Sanchez
Hazel Sanchez joined CBS 2 in 2000 as a general assignment...
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NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Police were searching Wednesday night for heartless thieves who stole hundreds of dollars in cash and medication from a New York City animal charity.

The Toby Project said they’re hoping the public can help investigators catch the crooks, reports CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez.

From their mobile van, the charity spays and neuters pets across the city for whatever cost their owners can afford. The generous service survives primarily on donations.

The Toby Project’s founder, Dr. Andy Kaplan, was stunned that someone would callously steal from them.

“It’s sad and it’s infuriating that these people would stoop so low to steal from a charity,” Dr. Kaplan said.

The Toby Project van was parked on 102nd Street in the Howard Beach section of Queens Friday night. When volunteers showed up for work early Saturday morning, they found someone had broken in.

“I immediately noticed that the window was broken and the door was open, so I walked in and everything was just in shambles,” technician Lisa Rinallo said. “You could see that they had gone through the cabinets and I noticed that they took the safe.”

Rinallo said the burglars took about $2,500 in donations and medications.

“Some of them are drugs that might be dangerous for people or animals if they’re in the wrong hands, or not being prescribed by a doctor,” Toby Project’s Dr. Jenny Ripka said. “It’s very scary.”

The project was forced to change its protocols.

“We have supplies that we bring on the truck and we leave on the truck, and now we’re not going to be doing that,” Dr. Kaplan said. “We’re going to have to take the supplies off the truck to protect what we do.”

On Wednesday, volunteers were still reaching out to pet owners in need like Natalie Fitzgerald, who said she was sickened by the crooks.

“Heartless, absolutely heartless,” she said.

“We’re still out here, but it’s upsetting,” Rinallo said. “I just want to try to continue the good work.”

The Toby Project promised the burglars who took wouldn’t stop the group from giving just the same.

To help the Toby Project or for more information, click here.