Tica the tortoise is 13-years-old, weighs nearly 50 pounds and might have been stolen from its human family in Weston.
The alleged caper happened over the weekend.
J.C. Fernandez and his wife, Mirtha, came back to their house at 4308 Fox Hollow Dr. Monday afternoon to discover Tica’s backyard cage wide open and empty.
Tica, an African land tortoise, was nowhere in sight. The lever that keeps Tica’s cage closed appeared to have been opened.
"There's no way she can open that," Fernandez said.
Fernandez said Tica had escaped in the past when lawn care workers accidentally left the gate open to the back of their house. But Fernandez told Local 10 he and his wife have always been able to quickly find their hard-shelled friend.
"We have very good intelligence. Within three minutes, we know that Tica is out, and they always come out and tell us," he said.
Fernandez said he is sure all of his gates were closed and secured. He worries someone walked into the back yard from a next-door neighbor’s house and grabbed Tica out of her cage.
Tortoise thefts are not uncommon. Last month, a tortoise in Palmetto Bay was recovered after police suspected children in the neighborhood stole it as a prank. Owner Sharon Haxton was relieved when Legacy, a 90-pound spur-thighed, was returned to her on Sept. 23.
The Fernandez family estimates Tica to be worth at least $2,000, and fears someone took the tortoise with intentions to sell her for cold cash. They have contacted the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
"Please, give me back my baby. Give me back my pet. Because she belongs to us," said Fernandez’ wife, Mirtha.
"If you bring her back, there will be no questions asked. We will be extremely grateful," Fernandez added.
Anyone with information is asked to call 786-564-9088.