Detectives with the St. Petersburg Police Department executed a search warrant on a house located in the 2400 block of 10th Street South on Tuesday, May 16th, discovering two stolen and endangered young Galapagos Tortoises. The search resulted in the arrest of 46-year-old Joshua McCarty-Thomas in connection with the crime.
A Facebook post by the St. Petersburg Police Department reveals that one of the endangered animals was found alive in the suspect's yard, while the other tortoise was found deceased in McCarty-Thomas' freezer. Police say that the endangered Galapagos Tortoises were stolen from the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park in St. Augustine on November 30 of 2022.
Officers were able to confirm their identities via microchip as the tortoises that were stolen last November. Police say that the juvenile tortoises are worth approximately $10,000 apiece, and once fully grown, these giant reptiles can reach upwards of 600 pounds and live for 150 years.
The 46-year-old was booked into the Pinellas County Jail on May 16 at 11:35 pm and faces charges in relation to the stolen tortoises, as well as several felony charges.
McCarty-Thomas will also be charged for dealing in stolen goods, as well as for two other commercial burglaries that occurred in St. Petersburg — one for the theft of rare books that are worth thousands of dollars in December of 2022 from Haslam's Book Store on Central Avenue, as well as for the theft of rare books worth thousands from Lighthouse Books on 1st Avenue North on October 15, 2019.
There is also a warrant out for his arrest in connection with the commercial burglary of a store in Ocala, where valuable comic books, also worth thousands of dollars, were stolen.
The St. Augustine Police will be the charging agency in McCarty-Thomas' case, while other cases against the 46-year-old are still pending.
Article by Rachael Volpe