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Man accused of stealing $30K worth of turtles from Florida breeder

By Web Staff

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    ESTERO, Florida (WFOR) — Several expensive turtles are back home after being stolen from their Florida breeder.

Surveillance footage helped Lee County deputies catch 47-year-old Jermaine Wofford.

He’s the man accused of stealing 18 turtles valued at $30,000 from Marcus Cantos, owner of The Turtle Source.

“I just had this sick, sick feeling. I felt nauseous the whole time,” he said.

But this wasn’t a random theft. Cantos said Wofford was fixing a beverage cooler.

“He needed a part so he was going to come back when you get the part in. After the first time he left, we noticed a couple things missing. But we didn’t make the connection with the guy,” Cantos explained.

When he came back, he noticed their office turtle named Huncy was missing amongst other things. That’s when he said they looked over surveillance video.

“The camera is right up here, not hard to see and the guy looked right in the camera and that’s how the sheriff’s department was able to use the facial recognition and he was just helping himself to all of these,” said Cantos.

After the Lee County Sheriff’s Office investigated, it was just a matter of getting Wofford back on the property where deputies arrested him.

“They kind of coached us on having them return. He was supposed to come back anyway,” Cantos said.

Now, Cantos is sending an important message.

“Check credentials of people coming in, verify that the place is legit, and then you should be fine. But if not, you’re like us careless and stuff goes bad,” Cantos said.

Deputies recovered five of the 18 turtles in Hillsborough County.

The owner says in the end he lost about $20,000.

Wofford’s bond was set at $50,000.

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