Long Beach police recover pricey lizards stolen from reptile store about a year ago


It was a cold-blooded crime.

In November, three people walked into JTK Reptiles on Pacific Coast Highway in Long Beach, broke into cages holding two Australian lace monitors — lizards that can grow to be more than 6 feet long — and escaped in a waiting car with the reptiles that together were valued at $75,000, according to a report at the time in the Long Beach Post.

Detectives stayed on the thieves’ trail and announced a break in the case Friday: The animals had been recovered and two suspects were in custody.

“As far as I know, the lizards were A-OK,” said Brandon Fahey, spokesman for the Long Beach Police Department. “We lucked out there.”


The store owner declined to comment Monday morning.

Police tracked the lizards to a Panorama City house Sept. 23. Jose Luis Macias Jr., 30, and Kassandra Marie Duenas, 27, who were in the house at the time, were arrested and have been charged with second-degree robbery, said Fahey. Both have been released from custody on $50,000 bail, he added.

Animal control handlers were called in to recover the lizards, which were returned to their owner, according to Fahey.

The suspects, Fahey said, “seem to be knowledgeable about lizards and lizard value and lizard selling.” He declined to say how detectives found the animals.

News of the arrests was overshadowed by another tale of a missing animal. On Friday detectives in the Bay Area announced they had apprehended a man suspected of stealing an arthritic ring-tailed lemur from the San Francisco Zoo.