updated 4/9/2004 7:45:08 AM ET 2004-04-09T11:45:08

A 9-year-old girl accused of stealing a rabbit and $10 from a neighbor’s home was arrested, handcuffed and questioned at a police station.

A Pasco County sheriff’s deputy found the black-and-white rabbit, named Oreo, hopping around in the girl’s living room, according to the arrest report. She was read her rights and taken away in the back of a patrol car.

The girl began to cry during questioning Tuesday. She admitted taking the rabbit belonging to another child, but denied taking two $5 bills and some change, according to reports.

Sheriff’s spokesman Kevin Doll defended the arrest, and said if the victim of a crime wants an arrest, deputies are required to act if there is enough evidence.

Lori Ventura, the mother of the child who owns the rabbit, said the girl has been involved in other incidents and needs help.

The deputy could have taken a report and referred the charges to the state attorney, said Pasco-Pinellas Public Defender Bob Dillinger.

The girl was released to her mother from a juvenile assessment center about an hour after her arrest, which she said was scary. She also didn’t like the deputy.

“He put one handcuff on me really tight,” she said Thursday. In the patrol car, “He just stared at me in the mirror.”

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