Home Animals Thief caught on security camera putting tortoises in her purse

Thief caught on security camera putting tortoises in her purse

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ROTTERDAM — A Rotterdam woman is facing charges after police said she stole two tortoises from a pet store.

Police arrested Dara L. Ward, 32, of Rotterdam, on Monday. She is charged with petit larceny and endangering the welfare of a child, both misdemeanors.

Ward is accused of taking the baby Sulcata Tortoises from Everything Pets on Altamont Avenue. Her arrest came after the store shared surveillance camera images of the theft on Facebook.

“Another outstanding citizen — this one brought a child along with her to steal 2 tortoises by shoving them into her purse,” Everything Pets wrote on its page Monday morning, in a plea for help to capture the person in the images.

The post had been shared nearly 500 times by Tuesday morning and the video viewed 27,000 times.

Within a short period of time, police had a suspect’s name, Rotterdam Police Lt. Jeffrey Collins said.

“Once the video got out (on the Everything Pets Facebook page), we knew pretty quickly who she was and were able to get her to come in and bring the turtles,” Collins said. “It all happened in a fairly quick time frame.”

The child endangerment charge accuses Ward of taking the tortoises while accompanied by a child, police said.

Everything Pets posted a follow-up video Monday evening announcing the tortoises’ return.

“The Baby Sulcata Tortoises are now back safe and sound!” the post states. “They are now receiving the proper care and will be ready for their forever homes in a week or two! We would love to extend our thanks and gratitude to absolutely everyone who shared and provided information to help us get these babies back in our care! And THANK YOU to the Rotterdam PD for your quick professional work!”

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