Children's Museum money stolen, then replaced

Officials from The Children's Museum of Northern Nevada were crushed Tuesday morning, wondering who broke in and stole the $3,000 they raised over the weekend.

But they were a lot happier later Tuesday after the money was replaced by the law firm of Crowell, Susich, Owen and Tackes.

"He (Bob Crowell) is my fairy godmother... well, godfather really," said Suzi Meehan, the museum's executive director.

Crowell, a Carson City School Board member, said he and the firm's other partners and staff were wondering how to help the community when they heard about the museum's loss.

"We didn't have anything in particular in mind. The money is one thing, but now we're looking to do something more hands-on," he said Tuesday.

The cash and a ring worth $600 were stolen from the museum's safe, about $200 was looted from a donation box at the museum's entrance and a cash register was damaged.

The ring was going to be auctioned at a museum fund-raiser.

Meehan said she has an idea who stole the money.

"They're close to the museum. We have a few ideas who it is. If they'll send back the money, we'll not press any charges," she said.

Several pieces of evidence were found at the museum and are being examined by Carson City Sheriff's Office, said Chief Deputy Bernie Curtis.

Fortunately, the burglars missed $800 in a petty cash box, Meehan said.

The museum's holiday fund-raiser, which included Trick or Treat Town, Nevada Day flag sales and admission fees to the museum, is the largest of four annual fund raisers, Meehan said.

The money pays for lighting, heating and general operating costs, Meehan said.

"We squeak through on a budget of $142,000, and to have this much money stolen in one go is incredible. I'm just sick to my stomach," she said. "Thank God for people like Bob Crowell and his office."

In early spring, Crowell donated an air conditioner to the museum.

When Bob Hunt, the museum's exhibit designer came into work Monday, he noticed the donation box had been looted.

Initially, Meehan thought that either a visitor or a volunteer had hidden in the museum, waited for it to close and looted it.

After a closer look, museum officials realized two doors, one leading to the safe and a second to Meehan's office, had been pried.

Only a handful of people know where the safe is located in the cavernous building.

"It's very difficult to think that any one would want to hurt us, but only a few people knew that the money was behind that door. Two of my employees, including my custodian, didn't even know where the safe was."

Aside from losing the cash, Meehan said, the museum is scrambling to raise $1,500 to repair the doors and replace the locks and the safe.

Meehan said she will also start planning to raise money for the unthinkable: a security system.

"I know we have a sprinkler system," she said. "But I never even thought we would need this (a security system.) Not here in Carson City. I guess I just trust people too much."


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