Fort Myers, Florida (CNN) -- A sea turtle nursed back to health was set free in Florida on Monday, but the special ceremony was upstaged by a thief.

Tampa Red the turtle got her name from where she was nursed back to health (Tampa) and from what almost killed her (red tide). Spectators gathered on a Fort Myers beach to see her go back into the Gulf of Mexico.

A transmitter glued to Tampa Red's shell will help researchers track where she goes. "It should stay on for a couple of years," says Dan Evans of Sea Turtle Conservancy. "As she grows, the parts of her shell grow and fall off [and] the transmitter will eventually fall off."

But Tampa Red's moment in the spotlight was quickly eclipsed when a masked bandit snuck behind the distracted crowd.

"He stole my wallet and went into the bushes," says the victim, Danielle Araica.

A news camera caught images of the culprit: a sneaky little raccoon grabbed Danielle's sparkly pink clutch and quickly made its way into the brush.

The videographer's young son came to the rescue, after the raccoon apparently decided pink was not its color.

"He dropped it and then I had that little boy go in there and fetch it for me," says Danielle.

Danielle was soon happily reunited with her wallet.

So while some watched for a glimpse of that turtle as she swam away, others left the beach with a newfound respect for wildlife... both in the water and on land.

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