After theft caught on camera, lizard returned to Lawrence pet store in the middle of the night

photo by: Contributed photo

Stephanie Perez, a store manager for Pet World, holds Clearwater, a bearded dragon lizard. Clearwater was allegedly stolen from the pet store recently but was anonymously returned after the store shared the theft on social media Saturday.

Honestly, who steals a lizard?

Allegedly, three out-of-county visitors to Pet World in Lawrence.

Clearwater, a bearded dragon lizard who is rehabilitating at the pet store, was allegedly abducted by a woman and two accomplices who were recently eyeing the lizard for some time in the store, according to the store’s security camera footage.

Sherry Emerson, owner of the store located at 711 W. 23rd St., No. 26, declined to say when the bearded dragon was stolen, but she did share security camera footage of a suspect picking up the lizard from its display and placing it in her purse before walking out of the store with the two accomplices.

Security camera captures theft of lizard at Pet World

The Lawrence Police Department said a report has not yet been filed for the theft. It’s not clear who the three suspects are, but Pet World tweeted on Saturday that the sheriffs of Allen and Bourbon Counties had positively identified the suspects. Neither sheriff responded immediately to the Journal-World’s requests for comment.

Why the lizard was stolen is not known. Emerson told the Journal-World in emailed responses to questions that a lizard of Clearwater’s weight, color and breeding possibilities could cost about $300, but Clearwater was not for sale.

Pet World originally took Clearwater into its rehabilitation center in 2017 to get her back to full health before she could be re-homed with a new owner. She was not yet ready to be re-homed when she was taken from the store.

“The lizard was in the last stages of rehabilitation at the time of abduction,” Emerson said. “She was very thin when she was surrendered to us last summer and we had been working on getting her weight up.”

Luckily, this story has a happy ending.

After the store posted its security footage on social media forums on Saturday and asked for the public’s help in bringing Clearwater home, an unknown person left the lizard at the front door of the store at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday, Emerson said.

Although the recent weather is much colder than what a bearded dragon lizard is accustomed to, Clearwater was left in a mail package with heat packs.

It could have been much worse, though: Emerson said the security camera footage shows a dog investigating the package about 5:20 a.m., but left it alone after a few minutes without getting into the package.

Emerson said Stephanie Perez, a store manager, found the box at 9 a.m. and brought Clearwater back into the store. The lizard was cataleptic, but once she was inside, she snapped out of it, Emerson said.

“She warmed right up and snapped out of it almost immediately as soon as Stephanie held her,” she said. “Clearwater is currently doing well.”

Emerson said the theft was upsetting.

“The most beloved and important part of the Pet World rehoming center is the positive interaction between humans and animals,” Emerson said. “Those connections foster and help sustain a passion for nature and all living things. We have hundreds and hundreds of safe, positive, meaningful interactions every day. Any time we see something as disturbing as a human mistreating an innocent animal, of course, it is very upsetting to us.”

The store is exploring its next steps, she said.

“We are currently consulting with respected authorities in the areas of animal rights and law enforcement to decide the best plan of action and which charges to pursue on the city, county, and the state level,” Emerson said.


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