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Car thief also drives off with donations for student auction

A car loaded with gift certificates and other items is stolen from the Plant High parking lot.

By TAMARA LUSH, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 31, 2002

A car loaded with gift certificates and other items is stolen from the Plant High parking lot.

TAMPA -- They hope to be the business leaders of tomorrow, but on Wednesday, a group of Plant High School teens received a lesson in criminology.

The New Business Leaders in the Making club had spent weeks asking city business owners for donations for a silent auction to benefit the club and a charity. Businesses were generous; the club received more than $900 worth of gifts, from an expensive bottle of wine to a lollipop tree. The silent auction was set for Wednesday night, during the intermission of the school's production of Godspell.

On Tuesday night, Betsy Scherzer loaded all of the donations into a 1995 Saturn belonging to a friend and fellow club member.

Betsy's friend drove to school Wednesday and parked in the Plant High parking lot. Sometime between lunch and the end of the school day, the car was stolen.

"All of the gift certificates, the miscellaneous items, the flowers, the car -- gone," said Betsy, who is 17 and the daughter of Times columnist Amy Scherzer. Her friend, the owner of the Saturn, is not being identified at the request of her parents.

A report was filed with police. Hours later, at the school play, an announcement was made that the silent auction had been canceled.

The teens are unsure what to do next. The club was started this year, and the auction was to be its first fundraiser, with some of the money going to a charity to benefit people with Lou Gehrig's disease.

"We don't really have a plan of action right now," Betsy said. "We could possibly organize another one. It's been a crummy day."

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