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January 8, 2013

A panda's return to Main Street

Businesses help reunite store's bear party

GLOUCESTER — Most residents recognize Gloucester’s most famous panda as the one propped between his momma and poppa bear parents at a table in front of Toodeloos! toy store, always prepared for a cup of tea or a photo with passersby.

But police saw Kevin the panda from another angle this weekend, as they watched video surveillance of a woman with long dark hair stealing the $70 bear Saturday morning, stuffing it into a dark-colored sedan, and hopping into the passenger’s seat before the driver pulled away.

The black and white stuffed panda, standing at about three feet tall and nearly as wide, has sat for almost 2 1/2 years in front of Susan Parent’s toy store, Toodeloos! on Main Street. And he was returned Sunday — thanks to some neighborly vigilance, Parent said.

“Gloucester is watching, all the businesses on Main Street are watching together,” Parent said.

Kevin had been taken once before, that time by a young teenager, Parent said. That time, another Main Street business employee ran after the kid and retrieved the panda.

This past weekend, video footage from a camera in Parent’s own store turned up a handful of clues.

Parent’s video revealed the woman with dark hair yanking Kevin over the back of his chair and squishing him into the vehicle. The video also showed a Lone Gull coffee cup in the woman’s hand.

When Parent saw the Lone Gull cup, she knocked on the neighboring shop’s door and the owner produced more footage of likely the same woman as she bought her coffee. Police are now looking at this footage in an effort to identify the woman who took the bear and the man who was with the woman when she bought coffee at Lone Gull about 10:40 a.m. Saturday, according to the police report.

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