Independence community helps 'Critter Hunter' after tricycle stolen with outpouring of donations

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- One day after someone stole an Independence man's independence, the community stepped up to help.

Residents know Darryl Havens by his uniform, badge and name tag. He's known by friends as the Critter Hunter.

"They always say 'Hi,' and they always like to see me smile," Havens said.

"He has been called Critter Hunter since he was little because he's always looking around trying to find different bugs and snakes, any kind of animals," Haven's aunt, Shawnda Reade said.

Havens rides around town on his signature tricycle. It allows him to get groceries, go to appointments and find critters who need help.

"I just catch animals and then just take them wherever they need to go," Havens said.

That is until Wednesday morning. That's when he realized his bike was stolen. He left it locked to a light post outside his building overnight. When he went to get it, the tricycle was gone.

"When I saw it not there for the first time, I was a little confused because that never happened before," Havens said.

"I was mad. I was really mad because that's the source of transportation," Reade said. "That's the only way that he has to go around."

His aunt posted about it on Facebook. That's when people who have seen him around, friends and strangers all stepped up to help. Many people posted their personal stories about how he has touched their lives. The fund raised more than six times what they had hoped it would.

"I was in shock. I thought they were kidding around to make me feel better," Havens said.

Thanks to complete strangers the Critter Hunter will be back before they know it.

"I want them to see how much that Daryl is appreciating this and how much he loves it, how much they are taking something out of their pocket to change his life around and make things better for him," Reade said. "I mean, they're amazing, and it doesn't get any better than that. We have a really strong community."

Darryl's aunt says the money will go into a fund that will be managed to help with his needs. He's planning to get a new bike, and a GPS tracker in case it happens again.

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