Man steals rare Egyptian tortoise in Lodi worth $1,000

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The Latest: The Serpentarium said Monday the tortoise was returned to them. Apparently, someone on a bicycle sold it to a boy for $20 and the boy brought it back to the Lodi pet store.

LODI, Calif. (KTXL) -- The owners of a pet store in Lodi were pleading for the return of a rare tortoise worth more than $1,000.

Inside The Serpentarium, you can find all sorts of reptiles. They have bearded dragons, snakes and prized tortoises of all sizes.

“We’ll do all different types of tortoises from tiny, tiny, little ones all the way up to big 3 1/2 foot tortoises,” manager Sean Doherty told FOX40.

Doherty says he was outraged when he found out Tuesday that someone stole a rare Egyptian tortoise from its tank.

"An employee was doing a temperature test on the tank in question, and they stepped away momentarily," Doherty said.

Surveillance video from inside the store shows a group of people walking up to the tank. A man appears to reach inside the tank, grabbing the tortoise before walking away.

“Generally, it’s been a sense of shock from the entire community, people who shop here. It’s a trusting hobby, everyone knows each other,” Doherty said.

Staff members said the tortoise was being used as part of a breeding program.

“It’s not just that they’ve stolen something. It’s an animal that has certain requirements that they’ve stolen, and it will die without those requirements,” Doherty said.

The staff continues to care for the remaining reptiles and they’re asking the person responsible to come forward.

“If they don’t, it is over a thousand dollars’ worth of product with it being a living animal. And we will press charges,” Doherty said.

Lodi Police said they have been notified about the theft.

If you know who is responsible for stealing the tortoise, you are asked to contact the police.

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