TWO Ballina children have been left heartbroken after their beloved pet rabbit and pair of guinea pigs were stolen by unknown thieves in the middle of the night.
Sometime between 8.30pm on Sunday night and 7.30am on Monday, a tan brown rabbit, named Shadow, an albino guinea pig, named Coconut, and a black guinea pig, named Chocolate, were taken from a Burnet St back garden, along with the guinea pigs' hutch. The property is opposite Ballina TAFE, west of Kerr St.
Waking up on Monday morning to find her precious pets gone was particularly traumatic for 12-year-old Charly-Ann Nolte, said her mum Robyn.
Charly-Ann had previously lost two pet rabbits to roaming neighbourhood dogs and she had saved her own money, $80, to buy Shadow, as well as saving for half of a $300 rabbit hutch.
"She saved and she saved and I said 'if you save, I'll get another rabbit'," Ms Nolte said. "She didn't spend her birthday money on anything apart from the rabbit."
At just 12, Charly-Ann was a very responsible pet owner.
"She had nursed Shadow from since she was a baby 18 months ago. She'd even paid to take it to the vet.
"Every night, religiously, she would call from her bed, 'mum is the back gate shut, is the side gate shut' because we've had trouble with dogs before," Ms Nolte said.
"That night she even went out and checked the side gate.
"I put her on the school bus yesterday in tears.
"I said you're just going to have to tell your friends why you're upset."
Ms Nolte's seven-year-old Bobby-Jay also woke up crying on Monday night in the middle of the storm.
"He said 'the bad people are not going to look after them, they're going to get wet', because we used to bring in them in undercover when it rained."
"I said 'darling they're okay, they've got a little hutch'."
Ms Nolte believes at least two thieves climbed over the property's rear padlocked gate (which backs on to Dixon Lane) and hauled the guinea pig hutch over, so they couldn't have been young children. It was not known if the crime was opportunistic or planned.
The family has spread the message on Facebook including the Ballina "buy and sell" page as well as contacting local pet shops in case the thieves atttempt to sell the animals.
The matter has also been reported to police.
"I don't know why people would take your pet; I can't understand it," she said.
If you know where the rabbit or guinea pigs are, or saw anything suspicious, please contact Ballina police on 6681 8699.
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