Is that a snake in your pocket, or are you just thieving a varmint?
An O’Fallon pet shop owner is offering a $100 reward for information about a stolen boa constrictor.
Surveillance video at Tye-Dyed Iguana Reptiles showed a man grabbing the Colombian red-tailed boa from its tank on Thursday morning and then slipping it into a pants pocket.
Matt Smallheer, who owns the pet shop with his wife, said the snake has a retail value of about $100.
“It’s not a super-big deal, but it’s just the principle,” he said. “When you steal from a small business, you’re stealing from my kids.”
It’s not a super-big deal, but it’s just the principle. When you steal from a small business, you’re stealing from my kids.
Matt Smallheer, pet store owner
Smallheer’s Facebook post Friday morning about the theft had more than 750 shares and 10,000 views within an hour of being posted.
“Luckily we have a very loyal customer base. They want to see them caught just as bad as we do,” Smallheer said.
The video shows two men in the store together. Smallheer said the pair entered and left together. One of the men reached into the snake’s tank and grabbed it.
“He just reached and grabbed it, stuck it in his pocket,” Smallheer said.
Smallheer said he turned the corner, not realizing the snake had been taken. He said the man insulted his prices and said he was heading to a different pet store.
“I just took it as the guy being an idiot, but now I think it was a defense mechanism.”
The snake is about 18 inches long and about the thickness of a nickel. Smallheer said it can reach a length of about 10 feet.
Smallheer said he didn’t recognize the pair. But Smallheer said police told him they recognized one of the men in the video as a motorist they had pulled over recently — shortly after buying a tarantula at the shop.