Police Accuse Florida Man Of Stealing Endangered

A 46-year-old man is facing charges after he allegedly stole two endangered animals from a Florida zoo in November 2022, police say.

St. Augustine police issued a search warrant for the home of Joshua McCarty-Thomas, which led to the discovery of two Galapagos tortoises, WFLA reported Tuesday. Officers found one tortoise wandering around the yard while the other was found dead in a freezer.

McCarty-Thomas reportedly kidnapped the rare reptiles by walking out of St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park with the tortoises in a stroller. (RELATED: Man Arrested For Allegedly Taking Platypus On Train, Platypus Remains Missing)

“This is almost like grand theft auto, except it’s grand theft tortoise now,” the park’s director, John Brueggen, told WFLA when the tortoises first disappeared.

Brueggen said he and his staff are grateful to have some closure as to what happened.

Zoo staff will perform a necropsy on the dead tortoise and keep the living one in quarantine until they can determine how the first reptile died, the outlet reported.

McCarty-Thomas was wanted in a number of additional thefts throughout Florida, according to WFLA. He allegedly stole rare books worth thousands of dollars from Lighthouse Books in October 2019 and Haslam’s Book Store in December 2022. He was also allegedly involved in the theft of some valuable comic books from a store in Ocala.

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