An East Anchorage family suffered a double blow Friday night when thieves broke into their garage, stole thousands of dollars worth of belongings and killed their family pet.

That pet was a guinea pig that 10-year-old West Harris says he named Darth Tater, in part because the friendly animal was shaped like a Tater Tot.


“He’s the sweetest guinea pig in the world,” West said. “I’m telling you there are no sweeter guinea pigs.”

West’s mother, Carrie Harris, said Darth Tater’s friendly demeanor may have cost him his life. She found him in his cage the morning after the break-in with a broken neck. She said Darth Tater was known for excessively loud squeals when happy or excited. She figures the thieves were spooked when they encountered the guinea pig in the garage.

“The family that we got him from said he’s so vocal, he’s so friendly, and he was. I think they just thought he was too loud and was going to give them away,” Harris said.

The experience has left the family with lots of questions, including West.

“What would make a person do that, break into a house, kill a living animal and then steal a bunch of stuff," he said. “What makes a person do that?”

Carrie Harris said there are no easy answers.

“It’s just hard lessons for our boys,” she said. “Ones that at this age we didn’t want them to learn about and certainly not this way.”


West’s dad, Brad Harris, said the thieves were able to get away with about$10,000 worth of items, including an heirloom pistol that had been passed down through his family, tools and a custom carbon fiber fat tire bike he helped build with a friend.


He said it’s hard not to be angry about the situation, but at the same time thinks it can be a learning experience for all of them.

“It’s a teaching opportunity for Carrie and I to reflect to our kids how we could be good citizens in this situation and mourn the loss of our things and our animals," he said. "Think about better ways to protect ourselves, but also recognize that it’s a symptom of a bigger problem."

Harris said he wants the boys to know that people’s problems, like addiction or homelessness, can lead them to make bad choices — and sometimes those choices can hurt other people.

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