Wednesday, July 12, 2000

Zoo worker accused of stealing stuffed animals from gift shop

By Dan Horn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The man in the Cincinnati Zoo's gift shop looked like a really big animal lover.

        In the span of a few minutes, prosecutors say, Rodney Brumfield filled a half-dozen garbage bags with stuffed animals. Elephants. Giraffes. All manner of Beanie Babies.

        The problem, they say, is he didn't pay for any of them.

        Mr. Brumfield, 34, was indicted Tuesday on a charge of stealing $9,000 worth of merchandise from the gift shop on the evening of July 3.

        If convicted, the Westwood man could face up to 18 months in prison.

        “Even the animals in the zoo's gift shop are protected by law,” said Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen.

        Zoo officials say Mr. Brumfield, a gift shop employee, began filling the bags with merchandise even though the zoo was still open and the store still had employees inside.

        Zoo spokeswoman Donna Oehler said the spree took place in full view of two security cameras and a security officer.

        “It was not very smart,” Ms. Oehler said Tuesday. “They watched him take it out and stuff it into his car.”

        Zoo officials followed Mr. Brumfield to his car and called police, she said.

        Prosecutors say a search of his trunk turned up stuffed animals, jewelry, T-shirts, socks and 21 umbrellas.

        “He never left zoo grounds,” Ms. Oehler said. “But obviously he was going someplace he shouldn't have been going.”

        After the search of his car, she said, Mr. Brumfield was fired and arrested. He had worked at the zoo for four months.


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