HANOVER TWP. — A pet store owner found his business burglarized Tuesday morning, but no cash or electronics were missing.
Instead, the thief took the store’s alligators and possibly other prized reptiles.
Cameron English, 30, owner of CDE Exotics at 97 Oxford St., says two people smashed the shop’s door and stole three 2-foot American alligators used to help educate the public.
“They hit me in the heart.” said English. “I wish they took the money.”
In his near three years in business, English has never had a break-in but has had a problem with some thieves.
“I installed security cameras a little over a year ago,” he said. “I’ve probably lost about $2,000 from people with sticky fingers stealing my pets. But that has stopped since I put the cameras up.”
English hasn’t been able to confirm if the robbers took the other missing reptiles or if they just simply escaped after the break-in.
The pets missing from the store include: Savannah and Nile monitors, a marbled gecko and a 4-foot black and white Argentine tegu.
English said security footage showed two individuals wearing hoods and baggy clothing smash the glass at 4:45 a.m. and take the three alligators before leaving.
“The guy had to be about 6 foot 3 or 6 foot 4,” English said. “When we came in, a large concrete foundation block was found 25 feet into the store. It had to be a big strong person to do that.”
He continued: “They came in with a purpose and left in a hurry.”
English estimates his losses at approximately $900 but it goes beyond money.
“These alligators were not for sale. They were rescues and surrenders,” he said. “I took them to nursing homes, birthday parties and schools for educational purposes.”
While police have reviewed the security footage, English has a suspect in mind.
“I recently moved the alligators to another section of the store more visible to the public,” English mentioned. “When my store closed last Wednesday, a man standing at 6 foot 3 yelled at my employee shouting that he wanted the alligators.
“He looked very sketchy. It makes perfect sense that it’s him.”
English, who has a degree in herpetology (the study of amphibians and reptiles), is concerned for the missing animals.
“I’ve been doing this a long time,” he said. “These reptiles are very sensitive but intelligent at the same time.”
Anyone with information on the break-in is encouraged to call Hanover Township Police at 570-825-1254.
Reach Dan Stokes at 570-991-6389 or on Twitter @ByDanStokes