INDIAN ROCKS BEACH — A 63-year-old man who had 25 cats seized from his apartment Tuesday was arrested Wednesday, accused of stealing a different cat from an animal welfare worker who returned to look for more cats.
On Tuesday, James Zimmer's apartment at 2305 First St. was declared a health hazard after the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Tampa Bay discovered 25 live cats, and one dead one, in deplorable conditions, officials said. The cats had turned the unit into their litter box, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.
An SPCA officer went back to Zimmer's apartment Wednesday afternoon to search for more cats and found four. Zimmer also was at the apartment, removing his belongings, the Sheriff's Office said.
The SPCA officer put each cat in a separate crate and then into a van, which was left unlocked and running to keep the air conditioner running for the cats. The officer then went back into the apartment to look for more cats, the Sheriff's Office said.
When the officer got back to the SPCA, she noticed one of the crates was missing.
Shortly before the Sheriff's Office was notified of the missing crate, Zimmer approached a Pinellas deputy in the parking lot of Indian Rocks Beach City Hall. The deputy noticed a crate in the passenger seat of Zimmer's vehicle before he drove away. A witness also reported seeing Zimmer take the cat.
When authorities found Zimmer, he said he had left the cat at a storage unit on Walsingham Road. The SPCA retrieved the cat.
Zimmer was arrested on a charge of conveyance burglary and remained in the Pinellas County Jail on Thursday in lieu of $5,000 bail.