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Man arrested in connection with reptiles stolen from exotic pet shop in Livonia

Some stolen lizards recovered

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LIVONIA, Mich. – Police have arrested a man accused of stealing expensive lizards last month from an exotic pet shop in Livonia.

Kristin Bernard Bates is in custody after police said he stole more than 20 expensive reptiles on March 27 from Stingers Exotics pet store.

Bates is charged with receiving and concealing stolen property.

Some of the stolen lizards were recovered, police said.

The shop owners said thousands of dollars worth of reptiles were stolen, but the thief also took their personal pets.

Hazel Bunting and her mother, Jackie May, opened Stingers Exotics together after May’s husband died.

"It’s heartbreaking," May said. "We cry, then we clean and we, you know, we look in the empty cages and we’re heartbroken."

Video surveillance caught the burglar in action. A man can be seen stuffing the reptiles into a sack. Their estimated value was $5,000.

"If he knew anything about reptiles, he wouldn’t chuck them into a bag of bearded dragons," Bunting said. "Some of the bearded dragons could have been eaten."

Their personal pets, bearded dragons named Betty and Ace, were also taken from the store.

Police said the man used a large rock to break through the front door of the shop to get inside.

"This is more than a business to us," Bunting said. "We treat the animals as if they're our own."

The shop's loyal customers have been letting the women know they care.

"They grab us and hug us, and they feel our pain, and they're grieving, too," Bunting said.

You can watch Shawn Ley's original story about the robbery below.