Thieves target cherished St Albans tortoise

PUBLISHED: 20:00 26 September 2009 | UPDATED: 14:27 06 May 2010

Joyce Goodwin was given Minerva the tortoise when she was eight

Joyce Goodwin was given Minerva the tortoise when she was eight

A CALLOUS thief has stolen a well-loved tortoise, devastating its owner of over 40 years. Joyce Goodwin was given the tortoise, called Minerva, by her parents when she was just eight years old and she has remained with her since. But towards the end of Au

A CALLOUS thief has stolen a well-loved tortoise, devastating its owner of over 40 years.

Joyce Goodwin was given the tortoise, called Minerva, by her parents when she was just eight years old and she has remained with her since.

But towards the end of August the spur-thighed tortoise, now aged 60, was stolen from Joyce's garden in Camp Road, St Albans.

She had told very few people about owning a tortoise as they can be targeted by thieves since they fetch high prices because the country no longer imports them.

Joyce believes that somebody found out that she had Minerva and climbed over her garden fence while she was out walking her dog on Sunday, August 23.

It would have been impossible for Minerva, who has lived happily in the same secure garden for nearly 12 years, to escape.

One possibility is that Minerva has been sold on by whoever stole her but tortoises require very diligent care, especially when it comes to hibernating. Joyce said it could prove fatal for Minerva if she wasn't hibernated properly.

Joyce said: "I've been in pieces. She was even in my will because she is going to outlive me - she's an heirloom."

She continued: "It's so upsetting that someone could steal a creature that means nothing to anyone else, that I've had for all these years and that my children were going to inherit - and it could have even outlived them. She was taken by somebody that doesn't know her habits or probably doesn't know how to hibernate her."

Joyce is hoping that a guilty conscious may prevail or that someone with information about her whereabouts will come forward.

She is so desperate to be reunited with Minerva that she is putting up a substantial reward equal to her trade value for the information which leads to her safe return.

The tortoise is approximately eight by 12 inches in size, with different shades of brown.

A spokesperson for Herts Police said that officers had followed all lines of investigation including door-to-door enquiries. But they are keen to hear from anyone who may have any further information on 0845 33 00 222.

Those with information are also asked to contact Joyce's friend Jeanne on 020 8886 6739 or by email on jeanne@jeannewillis.com

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