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Posted by Robert Sposato on January 08, 2001 at 10:48:32:
Hey all! Just thought you might like this. We contacted the Middlesex County SPCA and they still haven't found the snake. (of course it's more then likely a burmsicile by now).
SOUTH BRUNSWICK NJ-Asbury Park Press (Staff Writer Ken Serrano)
A 25-year-old township man strode into a Route 1 pet store Tuesday evening and slid an albino Burmese python in the pocket of his puffy winter coat, police said.
A store employee, distracted by the man after showing him two snakes, notified a store owner as the man bolted to a waiting van. The license plate number of the van led police to capture the alleged snake thief a few minutes later on Route 1.
Rickie Joe Rakes Jr. was charged with one count of theft for stealing the 16-inch baby snake. Rakes is free on $2500 bail. The 6-month-old snake has not turned up.
Authorities said they believe Rakes handed the baby python off to a friend, who left it along Route 1.
There were no other arrests as of yesterday afternoon.
Howard Satnick, a co-owner of Pets Pets Pets Hobby & Game in the South Brunswick Square Mall, said Rakes came into the store about 5:30 p.m. The other snake he asked to see was a 12 to 14-inch boa constrictor, Satnick said.
He said the albino Burmese python was priced at about $200. The snakes grow up to 20 feet in length. Satnick, who has sold many snakes in his 11 years of business but never lost one to a thief, said there's another albino python in the store that measures 11 feet.
South Brunswick police officer Jim Ryan said the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is investigating the abandonment of the snake.
"You grow attached to these animals - they're dependent on you for their survival," Satnick said. "Then someone steals it and drops it in 20-degree weather. I don't foresee that snake being able to live more than an hour in that cold."
Satnick said he walked with police along Route 1 south Tuesday night for an hour, searching for the snake with flashlights.
Rakes in May pleaded guilty in Jamesburg Municipal Court to an eight-count charge of "needlessly killing animals," as well as a 16-count charge of failing to provide proper food, drink and safe shelter for his pets.
He was sentenced to 30 days of community service.
The charges were filed by the Middlesex County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Jake Jacobs, SPCA officer who entered Rakes' Jamesburg home Oct. 1, 199, at the request of his landlord after Rakes vacated the premises, said he found dead animals "all over the place."
Seven of 10 rabbits and a ferret were found dead, said Jacobs.
The cause of the animals' death was not determined.
"It could have been starvation," Jacobs said.
The three living rabbits, as well as another ferret and a chinchilla were not in good health. The animals included two pit bulls and a mixed German shepherd-collie in relatively good shape.