Panda mascot stolen Wilshire Park Elementary School - FOX 35 News Orlando

Panda mascot stolen Wilshire Park Elementary School

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It's the kind of crime that even makes kids shake their heads -- someone has stolen the hand-carved wooden panda mascot at an elementary school in St. Anthony.

The panda mascot had presided over Wilshire Park Elementary for at least a decade, and whether its disappearance is a prank or a peculiar theft, many people say they are pretty upset to learn that it's been pilfered.

"I was brokenhearted," Wilkinson said. "I just found out he was missing this morning."

Wilkinson taught at the school for more than four decades, and she even has a bench in her honor. She told FOX 9 News that the other panda and baby bear in front of the school pay tribute to a fellow retiree, but the original mascot that looked out on County Road D has disappeared.

Police say surveillance video shows that the bear was pried free from the bolts that anchored it to the cement below its paws on July 16. On Wednesday, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension put out a crime alert regarding the theft.

Both students and police say the bear is easy to recognize -- standing about 5 feet tall, weighing 100 pounds and showing slight weathering. Now, they hope the bear will be back before school starts again because it's tradition for the kids to take their pictures with the panda.

"We have to get him back before school starts and the kids realize he's missing," Wilkinson said.

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