July 16, 2008

Frantic Bear Pays Visit To Electronics Store

By Alan Gathright

A startled bear - perhaps hungry for a plasma TV - broke into a Circuit City store in Colorado Springs this morning.

"It's been pretty jumping this morning," said Circuit City supervisor Dawn Greene, who was inside the store during the 7:13 a.m. bear break-in.

The ursine intruder shattered a glass sliding door to enter a customer pickup area and cracked a second glass door, before fleeing into a nearby neighborhood and disappearing.

"When I called my assistant manager, luckily the cops were still here and they verified my story," Greene said.

The bear caper began at 4:38 a.m. when a police car nearly hit the young adult black bear as it darted across North Academy Boulevard.

The critter took refuge in a tree near Fazoli's restaurant, said Colorado Springs police Lt. David Whitlock. Colorado Division of Wildlife officials were summoned.

"They called out the fire department and they hosed the bear out of the tree," he said. "Then the bear took off on a dead run and for some reason just ran into the front doors of Circuit City, breaking through the glass doors."

Greene initially thought there was a human burglar when she spotted the shattered glass. After officers told her about the free- roaming bear, she checked the store's security video.

It captured the panicked bear as "he came running across the parking and just hit head first into my loading dock door and just took out the sliding glass," Greene said. "He turned the corner and luckily I have another door there. He tried to head-butt that one, but was unsuccessful."

"You see him come up on his back legs, looking through the window into the store" and then he began striking the glass with his paws, cracking it, Green said.

What was he after?

"I would probably say a 72-inch LCD-screen Mitsubishi that we have," Greene joked.

The bear, estimated at about 250 pounds, headed west into a residential neighborhood - and another tree.

"As far as we know the bear is still in the area but is not a threat to anyone," Whitlock said.

It's been a wild time in the Springs, after residents reported seeing what might have been an African lion - or a big dog - Monday, triggering a safari by law enforcement and wildlife experts.