Nearly 60 pythons and tortoises stolen from a Collier County reptile farm are back home for the holidays, thanks to Collier County Sheriff’s Office detectives.
In November, CCSO detectives began an investigation into the possible theft of reptile eggs from Reptile Industries, 2271 Rock Road in Golden Gate Estates. The business commercially breeds exotic reptiles for the pet store industry and private exotic species collectors throughout the U.S.
The business owner told detectives that she had reason to suspect one of her 70 employees was behind the thefts, according to CCSO reports.
Detectives met with employee Wayne Edward Simmons, 50, in mid-December and he confessed to stealing numerous animal eggs from Reptile Industries, reports said.
The stolen eggs eventually hatched into live animals, which Simmons was keeping at his residence at 1921 Rock Road, reports said.
Simmons turned over the following animals, which were stolen from Reptile Industries: one pancake tortoise, seven yellow-footed tortoises, nine red-footed tortoises, one cherry head tortoise, and 38 children’s spotted pythons, reports said.
The total value of the recovered animals was $7,300, reports said.
Simmons turned himself in to CCSO Wednesday and was arrested on a felony charge of grand theft, reports said.