Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo has been forced to deal with a different kind of animal. A yellow-bellied thief has been making the rounds through the parking lot, breaking into vehicles and stealing valuables. Changes are being made to deal with the problem.
Every day thousands of people leave their vehicles and make their way to the zoo.
“We've been coming for 20 years, never had a problem." Traci Carroll has never had a problem in the zoo parking lot because she just uses common sense when parking. "We make sure to just lock the car and take our purse and any wallets with us and don’t leave anything you can see in the car so it doesn’t entice ‘em to break in.”
Zoo officials say it doesn’t happen a lot, but it happens enough to force the zoo to make some changes. "We have our own security staff and we put more emphasis on patrolling the lot,” said zoo director Dennis Pate. “We've decided we're gonna add some signage out here to just remind people to store their valuables. Most of the break-ins are associated with people leaving valuables in plain view on the front and back seat."
Pate says out-of-town visitors, especially those from small towns, should remember that they are visiting a major metropolitan area. "Almost 18 percent of the people come from more than a two-hour drive away and if you live in the country you're used to leaving your house and car unlocked ‘cause you know everybody, it’s a little different in the city and you have to take some additional measures yourself.”
Zoo officials also plan to work with police to get even more help in patrolling the zoo parking lot.