Thieves Hit Wildlife Center

A break-in at the Wildlife Rescue Center in Hampton Bays last week has cost the organization thousands of dollars in donations and hundreds of hours of volunteers’ time, according to Ginnie Frati, its executive director.

The break-in occurred after the center closed for the day on May 6; it was discovered the next morning. Coincidentally, or not, the alarm system had been down for about a week, Ms. Frati said. It has since been repaired.

The intruders apparently climbed over the locked outer gates. “They broke through the front door, and through the office door, too. They used something to pry it open,” Ms. Frati said. “The mail was all over the floor.”

They made off not only with a donation can at the front desk but a large number of gift certificates gathered from East End businesses over the past year by volunteers. The center uses the certificates to raise money at charitable events during the summer season.

The certificates were for restaurant meals, merchandise, V.I.P. passes for the Hamptons Classic, and other such valuable items and events, the first of which is to be held tomorrow at 6 p.m. at the Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard on the North Fork.

The thieves also stole a case of wine, which was to have been auctioned at another fund-raiser.

Volunteers have been fanning out to visit businesses that made donations, but Ms. Frati fears the organization will never fully recover what was stolen.

The thieves went no further than the office area, leaving the animals in the back recovery area undisturbed. “The animals were okay. That was my main concern,” she said.

The Wildlife Rescue Center, which is open seven days a week, takes in injured land animals of all shapes and sizes, from the biggest buck to the smallest swallow. “Everybody here is devastated,”