GAINESVILLE, Ga. -- A local pet store owner believes thieves are casing his store and selling stolen animals on the black market.

He said he’s had multiple thefts in the last month including someone stealing five exotic reptiles over the weekend.

Village Pets store in Gainesville specializes in unique animals which is why the animals inside are so valuable.

The owner of the store said there is a black market for them and he’s positive they’ve already been sold. But he is hoping these thieves are caught soon.


► Reptiles worth nearly $1,000 stolen from Gainesville pet store

Ken Neidenbach opened his first pet store in Gainesville almost 50 years before.

“I ended up tired of going to Atlanta so I opened the first pet store in north Georgia,” Neidenbach said.

He moved into the current location off Browns Bridge Road in 2009. But in all his years in business, he’s never had anything like this happen to him.

 “Locks were picked and they came between last Friday night or Saturday morning,” he said.

Neidenbach said, on Saturday morning, that his manager noticed several animals had been taken. The thieves never touched the cash register, he said. Instead, they stole three red-tailed boas, a two-foot iguana and a Savannah monitor. All told, the exotic animals are worth about a thousand dollars.

“Either had it sold or they’re selling it for drugs, you never know,” Neidenbach said. “They can quick sell that stuff.”

He said that, just a few weeks earlier, someone took two bearded dragons while the store was open so he believes the thieves have been watching it for some time. Now, he’s hoping they won’t strike again.

“They cased the joint; they’ve been in here before,” Neidenbach said. “This center has lights out front. They came in pretty quick and left pretty quick.”

Gainesville police said there were no signs of forced entry and they’re still investigating.