A man who had 25 live cats and one dead cat removed this week from his Indian Rocks Beach apartment has been arrested on charges he later stole a cat from a van owned by the SPCA.
James John Zimmer, 63, of 2305 First St., was charged with burglary to a conveyance.
Zimmer took a cat and a small crate from the vehicle after SPCA workers returned to his apartment to check for additional cats, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. The burglary occurred in front of Zimmer's home about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, the sheriff's office said.
During the return visit, an SPCA officer located four additional cats and placed each in separate animal crates. The crates were then placed inside the SPCA van. The van was left unlocked and the engine running so the cats could have air conditioning.
The SPCA officer continued to check inside the apartment for more animals. The officer then returned to the van and left for the SPCA shelter. Upon arrival at SPCA, she noticed one crate was missing and reported it to the sheriff's office.
Just moments before the sheriff's office was notified of the missing crate, Zimmer approached a deputy at the Indian Rocks City Hall parking lot. The deputy noticed an animal crate in the passenger seat of Zimmer's vehicle. Following the conversation, Zimmer drove away.
After the deputy received the report, he received information from a witness who reported seeing Zimmer take the cat.
The deputy then located Zimmer. Zimmer returned the crate to the deputy and stated he had left the black-and-white cat in a storage unit on Walsingham Road. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals retrieved the cat.
On Tuesday, 25 live cats and one dead cat were removed by authorities from Zimmer's apartment. The apartment was deemed uninhabitable due to the deplorable conditions inside. The SPCA of Tampa Bay and Pinellas County Animal Services were caring for the animals.