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RESEDA : Chameleon in Jacket Catches Eye of Law

Perhaps a reptile shop is not the best place to shoplift.

A Van Nuys man was charged with the theft of a chameleon from a Reseda pet store after the six-inch reptile was allegedly seen crawling out of his jacket pocket.

Christopher Martinez, 23, was on his way out of Reseda Reptile when store employees spotted the chameleon leaving the store with him, according to the Los Angeles city attorney’s office.

While chameleons are known for their ability to camouflage themselves, this one did not seem to want to cooperate with the accused thief.

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“When they are in distress, i.e., being stuffed into a pocket, they turn dark, dark, dark green,” shop employee Darren Bachtel said. “So it stood out pretty good against the guy’s white shirt.”

Martinez is scheduled to be arraigned on Feb. 6 and if convicted could face up to six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine, according to the release.

Flapneck chameleons, like the one allegedly shoplifted, are named for the flap of skin around their necks that stand up when they are frightened, according to the employee. Usually priced at $130, this one was on sale for $65.

This is not the first such incident at the Reseda pet shop.

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“You’d be surprised,” Bachtel said, “what people will stuff down their pants.”


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