EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSMan Steals Baby Alligator From Beckley Pet Store
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Leslie Rubin
Videographer: John Tincher
Web Producer: Leslie Rubin
Reported: Jul. 25, 2013 6:10 PM EDT
Updated: Jul. 25, 2013 6:37 PM EDT
Beckley , West Virginia
A daring shoplifter took off with an unusual haul at a pet store. It was all caught on tape, and the video has gone viral.
A man stole a baby American alligator out of its tank, and while he got out of the store unnoticed, the surveillance video doesn't lie.
Paradise Pets is living up to it's slogan "not your everyday pet store." It's not everyday an alligator thief comes walking through the door.
"I was concerned for his safety really because he could be quite nippy," the store's owner Becky Collins said.
"Chopper" is the victim in this case. A 3 month-old alligator carrying a $300 price tag, who used to call an aquarium at the store home. That was until a man paid the store a visit last week.
He came in near closing time on Tuesday, and browsed the store with another man, believed to be working as a distraction. The suspect, who also brought a child along for the gator heist, wasted little time when he saw his opportunity.
"He raises the lid, grabs it out of there, puts it under his shirt and rolls his shirt because it's probably trying to bite him!" Collins said.
He strolls out of the store, gator in tote. Chopper was not deemed missing until feeding time the next day.
Collins said she's more concerted with getting him back, rather than pressing charges.
"I would just like to have it back. I'm not worried about anything," she said. "I would just like to have it back, because a lot of people came in just to feed it and just to spend time with it. We all kind of miss him."
The theft gave the phrase, "See ya later alligator," a whole new meaning.
Store workers said they believe they know who the suspects are, and said they havve come in before buying food and other supplies for alligators they claimed to own.
Beckley Police have not made any arrests.
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