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Ferret-napped!

Late-night thief swipes a Mazda with a furry friend hiding inside

You have to wonder when the car thief first saw the ferret in the back seat.

He probably didn't mean to steal it.

But imagine the look on the thief's face as he raced away, victorious, with that 1994 Mazda Protege.

Not right when he stole it, but maybe a few minutes later.

He - well, presumably 'he,' since most car thiefs are men - stole the car on purpose. No question there.

But the ferret?

Who steals a ferret, even by accident?

Honestly.

The cops have no answers just yet. They have so far been unable to - ahem - ferret out a suspect.

'No ransom calls, no nothing, and the police are no help at all,' the ferret's owner, Tamara Forsyth, said. 'Why would anybody do something like this?

Forsyth, 23, had had the ferret for only a week. His name was Sirocco.

'He likes to follow me around the house,' she said. 'We're pretty close. And he really likes to be held like a baby.'

Forsyth and her boyfriend, Jason Miller, 22, took little Sirocco into their Beaverton home after a friend's mother made him get rid of the pet.

'Actually there were three, but I could only handle one,' Forsyth said. 'To take all of them would have been just three ferrets of madness.'

Ferrets, for the uninitiated, are not rodents but long, low, occasionally temperamental furry mammals closely related to badgers, otters and weasels.

When Forsyth and Miller went downtown last Saturday for the Portland Pride Festival, they took Sirocco with them mostly 'just to hang out' and walk around, Forsyth said.

At night, after they decided to stay downtown, they parked the Protege in a SmartPark garage at Southwest Fourth Avenue and Alder Street around 10:30 p.m.

Sirocco went to sleep in his large, navy-blue cat carrier on the back seat with enough food and water for a couple of days. Accompanying him in the car were CDs and a few things not usually targets for car thieves: Miller's art sketchbook and a physics textbook.

The couple got back to the garage sometime after 2 a.m.

No car. And thus no ferret.

Forsyth called 911 at 2:37 a.m.

'I don't know any other number for police,' she said.

Then they waited.

'After two and a half hours, we gave up waiting for an officer and walked to the police station,' she said.

It was a busy night at Central Precinct. Reports of shots fired, accidents with injuries and without, a suicide, officers flagged down, drivers under the influence.

'This definitely wouldn't be a situation where an officer is rolling around, tired out, and says, 'I really don't want to take this call, so I'll just skip it,' ' Portland Police Bureau spokesman Detective Paul Dolbey said. 'That rarely, rarely happens.'

Finally, Forsyth and Miller met with officer Deanna Wesson, who took their information and wrote up a report. The case has since been referred to the bureau's Auto Theft Task Force.

'They can keep the car,' Forsyth said. 'I just really hope we get back my boyfriend's art and our ferret's OK.'