updated 10/29/2009 10:38:32 AM ET 2009-10-29T14:38:32

It's one thing for shoplifters to hide plunder in their pants. But a live ferret?

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Police say a homeless man in north Florida did just that. And he made it out the door before being challenged.

Thirty-eight-year-old Rodney Bolton is charged with theft over the $129 animal that police say he took from a pet store in Jacksonville Beach.

A 17-year-old witness confronted Bolton in the parking lot and was bitten by the animal after the man allegedly shoved it in the teen's face.

That confrontation makes the ferret a "special weapon" under Florida law. So Bolton also faces battery charges for dangerously wielding the animal.

Calls to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Department to see if Bolton has a lawyer were not answered early Thursday.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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