Family pleas for return of tortoise stolen from Miami backyard

MIAMI (WSVN) - A South Florida family is hoping to get their beloved pet tortoise after, they said, someone stole him from their backyard.

The family feared their pet Sebastian may have wandered off, but an alert utility worker determined that was not the case.

“He’s our family, and we would like him back,” said Pammy Wauchope, Sebastian’s owner. “This is normally where he sleeps. He’ll wedge himself up under here.”

Sebastian vanished earlier this week while Pammy was working in the yard of their Miami home. “We are thinking the gate may not have been latched, so he was able to push and keep pushing and he was able to push it open,” she said. “And when I came around, it was pretty much like this.”

Sebastian has been known to escape the backyard, so the neighborhood is familiar with him. “Once our neighbors, either the one directly next to us or the house after that, when they see him, they’ll come knocking at our door,” said Warrell Wauchope.

An FPL worker found Sebastian while he was on the job in the area, but the tortoise was in the hands of a stranger who claimed Sebastian belonged to him.

“My assumption is he pulled into the yard as a distraction to make it seem like he lived in the neighborhood,” Warrell said.

The FPL worker was suspicious, so he took a picture with his cellphone camera. “The FPL guy knew something was wrong. He knew this gentleman obviously seemed out of place, saying it was his tortoise,” Warrell said. “I was grateful enough that he took the pictures, so we could have some form of evidence.”

The family said that their backyard has not been the same without their tortoise. “Just return him,” Warrell said. “That’s all we want.”

Pammy said that she just cares for Sebastian’s well-being. “He’s our family and we would like him back,” Pammy said. “If you are going to keep him, please take care of him. Please know what you are doing.”

Sebastian has a small dent on the left side of his shell.

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