Stolen pet dies shortly after return

Kirbay Preuss
Kirbay Preuss(WILX 2021)
Published: May. 6, 2021 at 4:36 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - UPDATE: The hog nosed snake has been returned unharmed. A call came around 5 p.m. Friday informing the staff the snake was located in a flower pot outside of the store where it was retrieved.


Saturday, News 10 told you about two pets stolen from a local pet store in seemingly unrelated incidents. Now, one has been returned, though the store owners are not celebrating.

Preuss Pets in Lansing lost two animals to shoplifters last Friday. Lansing Police said a Malayan forest gecko and a hog-nosed snake were stolen from the pet shop. They said the animals were stolen about an hour apart from each other by different people, but they do not believe the thefts are related.

Police said a middle-aged man and a woman are suspected of stealing the gecko. A different man is suspected of stealing the snake.

Six days after those thefts Kirbay Preuss, General Manager of the family-owned Preuss Pets, put out an announcement on the company’s Facebook page.

“An unfortunate twist [has happened] in this whole situation,” Pruess said. “We did get our gecko back, and he passed away shortly thereafter.”

She was not specific on how the gecko died, though she was visibly distraught when making the announcement. The gecko was returned after another individual, claiming to have seen the news, knew the geckos whereabouts and brought him back on Tuesday.

Maranda Chavez is the front desk manager at Preuss Pets. She was the one who had first contact with the gecko once it was returned.

“I met the man at the door and the gecko was just in this tiny little plastic box,” Chavez said. “You could just tell right away he was very glazed over and just not with it. Not feeling good.”

She says she immediately called for help. “I definitely knew that time was of the essence to get him to a reptile manager right away, so they could try their best to revive him,” Chavez said. Another pet which was also stolen that same day within minutes of the gecko was a hog nosed snake.

Preuss said, “We received a call today from an anonymous line that our snake was outside in a box. We immediately went outside, and in the cold rain was a box with absolutely nothing in it.” Nothing except an apology note which preuss has asked us to blur due to investigative evidence. Preuss said, “I don’t believe the snake was ever in the box. I also want to emphasize if it was in the box there is no danger. This is a very harmless snake.”

Pruess and Chavez say it’s been an emotional six days.

Chavez said, “These are exotic animals that have very specific conditions that within a couple of days if you don’t follow these parameters it’s devastating.”

“One thing I care about greatly is not allowing any form of animal abuse,” Preuss said. “And this is something that sits very heavy on my heart.”

If there is a silver lining, it’s that such thefts are extremely rare.

“This is a very rare, and unique, and unfortunate circumstance. Doesn’t happen often, thank God. But I want to make sure that we’re shining light on the fact that there’s so many agencies on this to bring justice,” Preuss said. “And also, there’s a huge community of people who advocate for animals, who advocate for the voiceless, and who rally for little animals from geckos all the way up to dogs and cats.”

“I want to thank animal control, I want to thank LPD, specifically Detective Kennedy,” Preuss added. “And this isn’t over. This has just begun.”

Lansing Police have not yet revealed if they’ve made arrests in the case, though over the weekend they were working to formally identify the suspects using security footage. They’re also not alone in the effort to find the thieves.

The Lansing Police Department has been hard at work following tips from the community. Preuss believes the more people share the story on social media, the faster the thieves will be brought to justice.

Preuss said, “You’d be surprised at what a simple share can do at getting valuable information. So, please share the pictures of these people.”

Those pictures are included below.

Suspects involved in stealing lizard and snake from Preuss Pets.
Suspects involved in stealing lizard and snake from Preuss Pets.
Suspects involved in stealing lizard and snake from Preuss Pets.
Suspects involved in stealing lizard and snake from Preuss Pets.(Preuss Pets)

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