Python stolen from Rutland pet store returned by remorseful girl

Python returned to store

UPDATE 2:40 p.m.

Kelowna RCMP will not be pursuing charges after three youths who stole a python from a Rutland pet store were identified by police.

The trio were identified through CCTV footage and on April 17, Kelowna RCMP community youth safety officer Const. Fed Angulo was able to retrieve the stolen snake unharmed and returned it to the business owner Kai Heinrich.

The snake, which was valued between $400 and $500, was in good health, and after consulting with Heinrich, no criminal charges will be pursued.

“One of the things the owner wanted to ensure is if the youth were remorseful,” said Const. Angulo. “In my dealings with the youth, I could confirm they were indeed remorseful for their actions and did regret causing the incident.”

Community youth safety officers like Const. Angulo work with youth and students throughout the greater Kelowna area.

"They assist in helping detect and identify patterns of nefarious or criminal activity, allow for trusted engagement regarding a youth’s needs and help foster the relationships with the necessary resources a youth with complex needs may require," says an emailed statement from the RCMP.

ORIGINAL 1:41 p.m.

A python stolen from the Purple Seahorse Pet Store in Rutland has been returned to the shop and the snake is no worse for the experience.

The banana ball python snake was stolen from the shop on Highway 33 on Saturday afternoon. Store owner Kai Heinrich told Castanet that he has video and audio of the theft, but he wanted to give the teenage suspects the opportunity to avoid police and do the right thing.

Heinrich says he worked with RCMP youth safety officer Const. Fed Angulo and managed to track down the three youths involved in the theft.

"There were three teens—including a 13-year-old girl who kind of got roped into the situation when she probably shouldn't have—sort of made a poor decision at the time," he said.

The girl took the snake home, because she knew one of the other teens who stole it could not take care of it.

"She has total regret and feels terrible," said Heinrich.

"Just exactly what I had thought to begin with. It was a troubled girl who is mixed up in the wrong crowd. She has an opportunity to better herself, but if we penalize her through the court system, you're not bettering anything," he said.

The python is doing well according to Heinrich, who said Const. Angulo was an important part of negotiating the safe return of the snake.

"He's helped me in the past, so he actually came in, 'he's like, can we talk?' I'll be honest, I don't call cops for stuff. I've been let down too many times."

"The reality is, if I didn't make that post, we would not have found them so quickly. Everybody's tips and everything made a clear ironclad case. I was able to track their entire route. I knew basically where they live, what bus stops they were at, everything lined up perfectly," he said.

"It was because everybody was involved as a community."

Heinrich says he is working with Const. Angulo on what to do about the three suspects. One of the suspects is on probation and has a criminal record but the girl who turned the snake in says she's remorseful.

"So we'll see. If she's genuinely apologetic, come in, and we kind of talked about (her) maybe putting in a few hours here (at the store) to pay off the sins. I'm totally open to it," he said.

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