UPDATE: Police Identify Python Theft Suspect

By: Rahel Solomon Email
By: Rahel Solomon Email

UPDATE 12/30/13 @ 3 p.m.
BECKLEY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Police say they have identified the man they believe stole an eight-foot python from a pet store.

The snake was stolen from Paradise Pet Store in Beckley Sunday afternoon.

Store surveillance shows the man sliding open the unlocked cage, hiding the snake under his jacket, and walking out.

Police tell WSAZ.com the man is 25-year-old Matt Jones, of Maryland.

They say Jones was staying with a friend in Beckley at the time of the theft, but has since left time.

Police say they believe Jones took the snake to Oak Hill, where he may have sold it.

They do believe Jones is still in West Virginia.

Call Beckley Police if you have any information.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.

ORIGINAL STORY 12/29/30 @ 5:45 p.m.
BECKLEY, W.Va. (WSAZ)-- An eight-foot python is missing from a pet store after an alleged theft Saturday afternoon.

It happened at the Paradise Pet store in Beckley. Store surveillance video shows a man slide open the unlocked cage and hide the snake under his leather jacket.

The store owner also believes the suspect was with a friend who is seen leaving the store shortly after the suspect.

“That's really scary,” customer Ashley Grant said. “What could a person want with such a big snake.”

The store owner - who didn't want to speak on camera- admits the snake's cage was opened so it could be fed. She tells WSAZ.com the $350 snake was docile and the suspect probably knew that based on previous encounters.

Store employees say the rare Burmese python could grow up to 25 feet and say without the proper care, the normally gentle animal could quickly lash out.

Paradise Pet is the same store where an alligator was stolen several months ago.

“It's common for people to have pet snakes but then a pet alligator; I don't know it's just scary,” Grant said.

The store owner says the alligator was never recovered.

She says hopes the python is found soon, not just for the sake of the animal, but for the safety of everyone nearby.

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