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Last Updated: Friday, 9 April, 2004, 16:12 GMT 17:12 UK
Police arrest 'rabbit thief', nine
A rabbit
The girl admitted stealing a rabbit, but not cash
A nine-year-old girl was arrested, handcuffed and taken to a police station after being accused of stealing a rabbit in Florida.

The girl began to cry during questioning, Pasco County sheriff's department said.

She admitted taking the rabbit from a neighbour's home, but denied stealing two $5 bills and some change, it said.

A sheriff's spokesman defended its approach, saying police are required to act if a crime victim wants an arrest.

The police report on the arrest said a sheriff's deputy had found the black-and-white rabbit, named Oreo, hopping around in the living room of the girl's home in New Port Richey.

Read her rights

She was read her rights and taken away in the back of a patrol car after the incident on Tuesday.

The public defender of Pasco-Pinellas, Bob Dillinger, said the deputy could have taken a report and referred the charges to the state attorney, rather than taking such strict action.

The girl was held in a juvenile assessment centre until she was released to her mother about an hour after her arrest.

The girl said her experience was scary - and that she had not liked the deputy.

"He put one handcuff on me really tight," she said.

And in the patrol car "he just stared at me in the mirror", she added.

Lori Ventura, the mother of the child who owns the rabbit, said the girl has been involved in other incidents and needed help.

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