Weeks after a loggerhead turtle’s shell was stolen from a garage in Cortez, the case is still open.
Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch’s executive director Suzi Fox reported the turtle carapace — as well as two kayaks, Turtle Watch items and other personal belongings — missing from the garage at her home since Oct. 3, according to a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office investigation report.
Fox said in the report she typically lets family and friends use the kayaks, which are kept on the side of the garage, so she wasn’t concerned to report them missing until a few days later on Oct. 8 when the kayaks didn’t show up.
The day after she reported the kayaks missing, according to the report, she noticed that the three-foot-wide, four-foot-long shell was missing and again called the sheriff’s office.
“We had to step up our security system,” she said, adding the theft upset her and her family.
Sea turtles are either endangered or threatened but according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, loggerheads are considered threatened only in Florida due to the species’ high population count.
The turtle shell is on loan from the U.S. Department of the Interior, Fox said in an email.
Sea turtle shells are illegal to possess by the public in the United States without a permit from the U.S. Department of the Interior. Fox, who had a permit, uses the shell for educational purposes with Turtle Watch.
Fox said many people in the Cortez Fishing Village area are missing belongings, like boat motors and gears.
“With the crab season just beginning, its understandable that there (are) non local boat hands running all over Cortez,” she wrote.