California police recover lizards stolen from reptile store

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA (AP) — Police in California announced two arrests and the return of a pair of unique lizards that were stolen from a reptile shop last year.

The Long Beach Police Department said last Friday that the two Australian lace monitor lizards were stolen from JTK Reptiles in Long Beach last November, The Los Angeles Times reported.

The lizards, which can grow to be more than 1.83 metres long, were valued together at USD75,000.

Three people entered the store, broke into the cages holding the lizards and escaped to a waiting car, authorities said.

Police tracked the lizards to a Panorama City house on September 23. Jose Luis Macias Jr, 30, and Kassandra Marie Duenas, 27, who were in the house at the time, were arrested and charged with second-degree robbery. Both were released on USD50,000 bail, police said.

Animal control handlers were called to recover the lizards before being returned to their owner, Long Beach Police Department spokesman Brandon Fahey said.

The suspects “seem to be knowledgeable about lizards and lizard value and lizard selling”, Fahey said. Fahey declined to say how detectives found the animals.

“As far as I know, the lizards were A-OK,” Fahey said. “We lucked out there.” The store owner declined to comment on Monday.

One of two unique Australian monitor lizards that were stolen from a reptile shop in November 2019. The Long Beach Police Department has announced two arrests in the case and the return of the lizards, which can grow to be more than 1.83 metres long and are valued together at USD75,000. PHOTO: AP