Theft on a shocking scale as raiders snatch lizards

MOST housebreakers target expensive jewellery or big screen TVs when eyeing up a lucrative heist.

• Paul Wynne with one of his bearded dragons that the thieves left behind

But raiders of a property at Magdalene Drive on Saturday swooped on an exotic treasure trove on an entirely different scale.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Thieves broke into a reptile enclosure between 2am and 2pm making off with a 1000 haul of lizards, turtles, heated tanks and fluorescent lights.

The crooks also stole off with a tankful of locusts which are almost worthless but often used as reptile food.

Among the creatures stolen from the locked enclosure beside the home were two Mississippi mud turtles, two bearded dragons and around 24 incubated lizard eggs.

Each bearded dragon is between 18 and 24 inches long with an estimated value of 150.

Paul Wynne, 24, who had been keeping reptiles and other exotic animals for the last seven years, was devastated to discover so many of his pets snatched in one swoop.

"I'm very upset and very angry because I've put a lot of time and effort into looking after these animals and for someone to come along and leave me with almost nothing is absolutely gutting," he said.

"I've had the dragons for two years but the turtles I have taken care of since I was 17. It's really upsetting."

"On Sunday morning I went out into the back garden where the lock-up is right next to the house and noticed the steel door at the front of the enclosure wide open. I thought I'd maybe left it open by accident but when I looked in the main vivarium was wide open and there were only two dragons left.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Each dragon is worth about 150 and we had managed to get them breeding for the very first time and had just laid a batch of eggs.

"But it's not about money though, these were my pets."

Mr Wynne said he believed the burglary was "professionally done" because the door hinges had been oiled to reduce noise and boltcutters had been used to crack open an expensive lock. But despite their prowess in breaking and entering the burglars failed to notice two elusive bearded dragons that had been hiding beneath a log - a grain of comfort to Mr Wynne who lives with his father John at the property.

"It's awful that it happened just a week before Christmas, it's absolutely shocking and a very big loss for me.

"It's the equivalent of someone coming into your home and stealing your cat and dog.

"What makes this worse is that I'm not insured."

A police spokesman said an investigation was under way.

"A number of exotic animals were stolen in the break-in, and police are appealing for any information that can assist in returning them to their owner.

"Anyone with information should contact Lothian and Borders Police on 0131 311 3131, or Crimestoppers in confidence and complete anonymity on 0800 555 111."