Admitted python thief Jeffery Quon couldn’t slither out of a six-month jail sentence Thursday.
The 25-year-old Anaheim Hills man pleaded guilty in October to stealing 14 exotic ball pythons valued at $75,000 from a breeder’s home, court officials said.
The snakes were stolen in January 2004 from Jeff Houston’s Anaheim Hills home, where he and his wife had been breeding the reptiles for three years for retirement income, he said. They had more than 100 snakes, but Houston said Quon had taken the most valuable.
After the theft, Houston trolled reptile websites and found a seller hawking an adult Mojave ball python for $18,000. He engineered a sting operation with police that netted nine of the stolen serpents.
He used a relative’s e-mail address to arrange the purchase, and an Anaheim police officer posed as the buyer at the martial arts school where Quon taught karate.
The 2-foot python’s midsection bore a pattern roughly the shape of Italy, exactly like one of Houston’s missing snakes.
Quon had purchased two baby snakes from Houston several months before the break-in.
At his sentencing in Fullerton, court officials said, the snake rustler was also ordered to pay Houston $25,000 in restitution within 30 days.
Houston and his wife have since moved to a 2.5-acre property near Seattle, where they have about 250 snakes. He said Thursday that he planned to pursue a civil lawsuit against Quon to recover the money he lost. In addition to the snakes’ actual value, several were pregnant at the time they were stolen.
“I thought the sentence was a little light,” Houston said. “But I know it’s hard for people to wrap their heads around the fact that snakes can be worth this much.”