When Janice Rich got the call from the police on Monday, she was nervous. Her beloved pet tortoise Diesel had been abducted from her La Verne backyard and missing for weeks.
Miraculously, the 130-pound tortoise worth over $1,000 was found this week, 20 miles away in Whittier.
"I didn’t want to get my hopes up in case it was another tortoise," she said. "But when I saw him, I fell to the floor and just started hugging and kissing him."
Top news of the day
Despite minor injuries, "Diesel" is "happy and eating," Rich said.
The pet nappers broke into the Rich’s wooden gate around 8 p.m. Oct. 7, snatching Diesel, the family’s desert tortoise.
Rich took to social media to help bring her beloved pet home.
"The message must have reached the right people," Rich said.
The final tip in this unusual caper came from a woman who called the La Verne Police Department to report that, while driving her car in a remote area of Whittier, she narrowly missed hitting a giant tortoise in the middle of the road, according to Detective Shawn Dinkel, of the La Verne Police Department.
Thanks to Rich’s social media campaign, the woman recognized the tortoise as Diesel, Dinkel said.
Rich claimed that the theft was well planned.
"There were no signs of struggle – no blood," Rich said.
This case is not the only one. Dinkel said that there have been other similar cases.
He recommends installing security cameras.
There have been no arrests, but police are convinced that there was more than one thief. If caught, they face burglary and grand theft charges, Dinkel said.
"It must have taken two men to steal Diesel because he’s so big," Rich said.