All animals at a Council Bluffs pet store are now under lock and key after a number of expensive thefts. Rex Maresh owns the Bird Cage on the city’s east side. "In the last two months, we’ve lost over a thousand dollars worth of reptiles but I think we’ve finally got a handle on that problem," Maresh says.
The latest incident happened last week when store employees caught an Iowa man trying to steal an iguana. Maresh says the man took the lizard, "and he put it small cloth bag from Ameristar Casinos, put the lizard in there and just stuck it in his pants."
The suspected shoplifter threw the lizard to the floor and then crashed into a reptile cage, killing four bearded dragons. Maresh says no one expects the theft of animals is a big business but apparently there is a market for purloined pets. "Last year, one of the Chihuahuas that was stolen, the gal was a drug addict and she’d sold the pet for drugs, so God only knows what happened to that pet," he says.
Maresh is very concerned about the health of the stolen animals. He says the thieves likely do not know how to care for some of the exotic pets. "If they can’t afford to buy the reptile itself, they’re definitely not getting the right care for them." Maresch says the store has recently installed additional security cameras to make sure they are able to identify would-be shoplifters.