A 60-pound desert tortoise whose abduction from its Escondido home was apparently caught on surveillance video is just one victim in a string of similar crimes, officials said Friday.
“Kahuna” was stolen from a yard on Cheyenne Lane Saturday by a woman driving a silver Ford Focus.
A surveillance camera outside of the home captured the car pulling up in front of the house. Then, a woman picks up the tortoise in her arms and carries it to the car before driving off.
Escondido Police say there have been a series of tortoise thefts in the Los Angeles area. They are not sure if Kahuna's abduction is related to those bizarre thefts.
Mike Lamaye and his family have owned the tortoise for seven years. The pet has brought companionship and happiness to Lamaye after suffering heartache.
“He’s amazing,” said Lamaye. “I didn’t want to put another pet down. I wanted something that would outlast me.”
But now, Lamaye is once again without a beloved pet companion that even his dog, Miles, came to love.
The Escondido resident said the theft is unbelievable.
“It’s just horrible – it’s not right,” he lamented.
His neighbors, including Jessica McManus, are just as shocked over the crime. They, too, also miss Kahuna and want him home.
“He was a good symbol for this community,” McManus told NBC 7.
The desert tortoise escaped from Lumaye's backyard when construction crews left the gate open. Surveillance pictures show him being picked up by the unknown suspect in McManus' yard.
“I feel really violated,” she said. “This is our front lawn. My child plays on the lawn; we have two bull dogs that are precious to us, too.”
Lamaye and his family aren’t giving up on their efforts to find Kahuna. They’ve posted signs in the neighborhood offering details on the tortoise and his disappearance. Lamaye said Kahuna has a slightly broken beak.
McManus hopes the signs work and the pet is soon reunited with the Lamaye family.
“Someone needs to have a heart and bring him back,” she added.
If anyone has any information about Kahuna’s whereabouts, they can alert NBC 7 via email and we’ll forward the information to the owners.