Pet tortoise of 63 years is stolen from devastated grandfather

A RETIRED mushroom farmer has been left devastated after callous thieves stole a rare tortoise that had been his trusty pet for 63 years.

Rex Coxeter, who lives with his wife Jane on The Old Mushroom Farm in High Roding, described his pet tortoise Timmy, which is on the most endangered species list and is believed to be about 93 years old, as “part of the family”.

The couple went away to Scotland for a week last month and when they returned the tortoise had vanished.

Mr Coxeter is adamant that Timmy was stolen and believes it was probably taken between about 12 and 2pm on April 23, shortly after he and his wife left for their getaway.

He told the Broadcast: “Timmy was about 20 years old when I got him back in 1949.

“I was in Oxford at the time and it was when they used to bring in crates of tortoises from Turkey and Greece and then sold them off in the market as pets.

“About 90 per cent of them died but obviously I took more interest in mine because he has been with me since I was 11.”

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The 74-year-old did not believe the tortoise could have escaped from its enclosure, saying it had lived there for more than 25 years and was perfectly happy.

Timmy is a Hermann’s species of tortoise and is believed to be about 93 years old.

He weighs about 10 lbs and is thought to be worth around �2,000.

“He is knocking on towards 100,” Mr Coxeter added, “and is unique being as big as he is.

“I wanted to keep him in the family to pass onto my grandchildren. They are very upset about the whole thing because Timmy was part of the family.”

Mr Coxeter has reported the incident to the National Theft Register and co-ordinator John Hayward issued a stark warning to whoever stole the tortoise.

“This particular species is on the most endangered species list. It is a very rare tortoise,” Mr Hayward told the Broadcast.

“You cannot trade a tortoise without a licence and whoever has stolen it will not have one. Anybody who buys or sells this tortoise could go to prison for upwards of five years.”

Police have also appealed to anyone with information about the incident to call Dunmow Police Station on 101.