Tortoises smuggled out of Daventry garden centre in thief’s trouser pockets

The CCTV image of the thief shows the outline of the stolen tortoises in his pockets.
The CCTV image of the thief shows the outline of the stolen tortoises in his pockets.

Two tortoises were stolen from a Daventry garden centre last month after a man broke into their enclosure and shoved them into his trouser pockets.

The animals were taken from Whilton Locks Garden Village on Tuesday, April 25 at around 4.30pm.

Jackie Hunt, the garden centre’s manager, went to the police but they have yet to act upon the theft despite the store possessing incriminating CCTV footage.

Mrs Hunt said of the incident: “He came into the store and went directly to a locked vivarium where the tortoises were.

“He got onto his hands and knees and kept bending the metal of the lock back and forwards until it broke.

“He then put his hand into the vivarium, grabbed two tortoises, put one in each pocket and walked straight out.”

In order to own a tortoise in the UK you must first obtain a licence, failing to do so is illegal.

This measure was introduced to stop people from importing tortoises on a large scale from the likes of Turkey and Morocco, and selling the animals cheaply.

Part of the process of ownership is getting the animal microchipped so that its owner can be identified should the reptile be recovered after being lost.

The microchips do not allow for GPS tracking but, should the thief be caught in possession of the store’s tortoises, it will be impossible for him to claim the reptiles as his because the shop has the certificates to prove that they legally own them.

But above all Mrs Hunt is worried that the animals will not or have not received the necessary care they need, particularly as it is of a specific nature, since they were taken from their sanctuary.

“These are babies so they need the correct heat and the correct light,” said Mrs Hunt.

“If they don’t have that they won’t live.

“It’s nasty on several levels because they don’t belong to him, they’re now illegal tortoises, and then to stick them in his trouser pockets? It’s beyond comprehension for me.”