Discovery Center thief apologizes, goes to jail

May 16, 2013 12:57:21 AM PDT
The man caught on camera stealing reptiles from Fresno's Discovery Center in March apologized Wednesday to the people who run the non-profit.

Six weeks after the break-in, Devin Madej is already owning up to what he did and going to jail for it. The self-professed animal lover even brought his victims to tears with his apology.

The crime caught on camera put the non-profit Discovery Center in a terrible position. Four days after re-opening their museum buildings, and coming up on the busy Spring Break season, they had only broken windows and lost animals to offer the kids.

"It was a week of crying over lost and presumed dead animals," said Discovery Center director Mary Ellen Wright. "It was devastating to the kids."

The surveillance video helped a couple children identify Devin Madej as the suspect and police quickly arrested him.

One by one, they returned all four stolen reptiles to the Discovery Center. Nala the ball python was the last to be found.

Workers say she and the other stolen snakes have become shy since the burglary. They had to be coaxed out of hiding to pose for our cameras Wednesday.

A couple hours later, Madej accepted responsibility for the trouble he caused.

"First, I'd like to apologize to you guys for breaking into your spot," he said. "I did steal snakes for my own selfish desire."

Madej cried a lot during his apology and directly addressed his victims. He said it hurt to hear them talk about the consequences of his act, and he's embarrassed about what he did.

"Hearing what [Mary Ellen Wright] said made me sound like a monster," he said. "And all the news cameras."

Madej will have to spend about two more months in jail before he gets out. He'll be on probation for three years after that, and one of the conditions is that he stays at least 150 yards away from the Discovery Center.


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