Helpless animals have been left to die in freezing temperatures after callous thieves broke into a pet store to steal turtles.
The burglary took place after the window was smashed in the End Room on Albert Street in Motherwell at some point on Friday night.
The stolen animals included 15 turtles, which sell for £ 125 each, three geckos and two orchid mantises were also missing. The geckos were then reportedly discovered in the woods of Coltness.
Disgusted store owner Danielle Jordan said: “They seemed to know what they were doing, they cut the wires on our CCTV camera and smashed the window and took 15 turtles and a vivarium to put them on. The geckos were in the vivarium and I don’t think they realized they were there.
“It took us a long time to get the turtles and get them in – many stores are struggling to get them.
“We received a phone call to tell us that someone had found the geckos abandoned in the woods of Coltness. It was strange.
“To be honest with you, I expected the turtles to come back – to be sitting in front of the portal yesterday morning because they’re a little too hot to handle, but I’m losing hope now.” Maybe they got rid of them quickly.
The geckos and orchid mantises were later found, but due to exposure to the cold, one of the mantises died.
Danielle posted a message on Facebook Saturday morning highlighting the break-in and theft: “They ransacked our reptile room and smashed the window. They let animals die outside in the cold, we are doing everything we can to save them. “
Police appealed for the public’s help in locating the turtles and called the break-in a “deliberate and targeted act.”
Inspector Hugh Burns said: “It appears to have been a deliberate and targeted act. We need to find these animals as soon as possible because they could be damaged or even die due to being removed from their normal, warm environment.
“I would ask anyone who has been offered these animals or who knows they are being offered for sale to contact me.”
If anyone has seen anything suspicious in the area, please call Police Scotland on 101, citing incident number 1176 on Saturday 12 December, or call the Crimestoppers charity anonymously on 0800 555 111.