‘Stolen to order’ tortoise theft fear

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Shell-shocked grandparents have been left devastated by the theft of their 30-year-old pet tortoises.

John Knibbs and his wife Sylvia, of Thane Court, Stantonbury, were sleeping when thieves climbed through a window to snatch Freda and Turbo from their hutch.

Animal lover John, 74, believes someone had been watching his house and that his Hermann tortoises were stolen to order.

He said: “We started a search party immediately because we thought they had escaped – then we realised other things were missing. I could not believe what was happening.

“We called the police straight away and soon there were forensics people in our house taking fingerprints. The thieves obviously came for the tortoises; It was a clever move.”

The burlgars used the couple’s shopping bags to steal the tortoises – as well as six bottles of French peach wine, a bottle of Baileys, bottle of mulled wine, two cans of Guinness and a pint of milk.

They then let themselves out of the conservatory door without the couple knowing they had even been in.

John said: “It is disturbing that someone can get in to your home. It is really traumatic. My wife has taken it really badly. She is frightened at the thought of those people in our house and won’t go out into the conservatory when it’s dark.

“They could have stolen my car or whatever they wanted - you can replace all those things, but the tortoises were part of our family.

“I have not told our grandchildren yet because it is hibernation time. I just hope that we will be able to find the tortoises before spring so everything can get back to normal.”

The couple are appealing for information. Anyone who saw anyone acting suspious around Thane Court call Thames Valley Police on 101.