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Posted by desiree on September 20, 2002 at 22:49:06:
Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer
Todd Phillips holds a bearded dragon in his pet shop, Aquarium World in Apple Valley.
Robbers grab reptiles from two pet stores
MIRA KATZ/Staff Writer
APPLE VALLEY — Burglars stole hundreds of dollars worth of reptiles from two area pet stores this week, authorities and store owners said.
Sometime Tuesday night, thieves threw a large rock through the glass door of Pet 2 Pals in Hesperia.
They then broke the glass and kicked in the door to a custom made snake cage, stealing two red tail boa constrictors, each over 6 feet in length, and one 12-inch-long Arizona chocolate boa constrictor, according to Sunshine Ulloa, the sister of owners Larry and Joseph Ulloa.
“I think they tried to take other animals but they must have gotten intimidated because they were bitten or scared by the animals.”
Hesperia sheriff’s investigators took fingerprints, but Ulloa said she doubted that the thieves will be found.
“Real animals were stolen, and I just hope that they are not killed while the person is trying to sell the animals,” said Todd Phillips, owner of Aquarium World in Apple Valley.
On Wednesday, someone kicked in the door of Aquarium World and stole about $1,000 worth of lizards and snakes, according to Phillips.“We have an alarm system,” said Phillips. “But once the alarm goes off, ADT calls the shop to make sure it is not a false alarm, and then they call the police, to let them know of a possible break-in, and then they call me. By the time the police get to the store they have about a three-minute window of time to get in take what they want and get out.”
Phillips said he believes the thieves knew what they were looking for.
“Some of the baby snakes were on the top of the refrigerator behind the counter,” Phillips said. “Unless you knew they were there, you would not know that there were snakes in those containers.”
Phillips called the pet stores in the area with the list of animals that were stolen, so if anyone tries to sell the animals to the other local pet stores, they can be spotted.
He said his losses included two veiled chameleons, 16 baby bearded dragons, two California king snakes, one albino California king snake, two Pueblan milk snakes, and one piro king snake.
Local pet store owners said the thieves could very easily sell the fragile animals in the downtown San Bernardino or Riverside areas.
“People could sell the snakes down the hill,” said Kari Nobel, owner of The Nobel Pet in Hesperia.
“People could try to sell them at the reptile shows, but they would have to wait, and keep the animals alive until then,” said Patty Sutton, owner of Patty’s Critter Collection, in Hesperia.
“These animals take special care,” said Phillips. “They need heat lamps, and if the people who stole the animals don’t have the right equipment, we could lose them.”