"I trusted him Completely": Owner Believes Employee Stole Lynx Kittens for Black Market
A former caretaker at Animal Gardens is facing charges for his alleged role in stealing two Siberian Lynx kittens.
Those kittens went missing on July 3rd, and were returned on July 5th. They are happy and healthy, according to Animal Gardens officials.
The owner believes it was all part of an elaborate plot to sell the kittens on the black market.
"That evening, I received a telephone call from a panicky woman, who was saying she had the cats," says Montana. "I said relax, bring back the cats, come to the property, and we'll take care of everything."
Montana says that woman told her that her boyfriend at the property, a caretaker and property manager, had offered her the kittens as a gift. CBS-58 is not naming that man until he's been formally charged.
"He told her he was leaving and he wanted to give her a gift, and to come and get it," says Montana. "And when she came to the property, he said the gift were these two kittens that were in the barn, and he told her to go and get them and take them home."
Montana says that girl told her she had no idea the kittens weren't actually a gift until she saw news coverage the following day.
Surveillance cameras captured a black truck entering the property and stopping near that caretaker's door. Montana says the woman saw that footage on the news and realized something was up.
"She called me and I said they're no gift honey, they don't belong to him, they belong to us, so bring them back," she says.
Montana says the man worked for her off and on for about 3 years, and told her last week he was quitting to move to Virginia.
She says he had inside knowledge about how to access the kittens, and how much were they worth. Montana says each kitten is valued at about $4,000.
"I honestly thought once they got stolen that they were heading straight for the black market," she says. "Whoever took these cats knew what they were doing."
She believes the man was using his girlfriend as a tool to get the kittens.
"I truly believe she was naive to the whole thing," she says. "He in his scheming mind had this all plotted."
Montana says the man was a useful handyman on the property, with management duties and her complete trust.
"You could have knocked me over with a feather, because I would have never in a million years thought he'd do this," she says.
That man is being held on a 10,000 bond. When charged, he'll be facing Felony charges involving theft of property.
Montana says she doesn't plan on pursuing charges against the woman who returned the cats. Police are still trying to contact her to speak with her. Montana says she's just glad the cats weren't hurt.
"I truly did not think I'd ever see them again," she says.