By Jed Lanyon
Thieves targeted Lilydale High School’s reptile room on Saturday 18 May, stealing several rare snakes and lizards.
About 2pm they entered a portable classroom through a sliding window and took four golden/green phase common tree snakes and three eastern water dragons.
The snakes, some of which were in their infancy, were worth up to $3000 while the lizards could fetch up to $500, according to teacher and reptile room co-ordinator Marcus Whitby.
Some of the animals had arrived at the school just a month earlier and there are fears they will be sold illegally.
“It does sort of appear that way when other animals that can’t be on-sold weren’t taken,” Mr Whitby said.
“They were pretty rare and hard to come by.”
Mr Whitby said there was much anticipation at the school about the arrival of the new creatures and that the baby snakes would require significant care to maintain their wellbeing.
“The kids were doing a great job with them because these young animals are hard to get feeding early on,” he said.
“The kids worked hard and it’s a shame to lose them like this.
“Our biggest concern is if the people that took them don’t know what they are dealing with.”
Mr Whitby said that while the school had CCTV cameras in place in the area of the reptile room, the thieves managed to go through largely undetected due to blind spots.
“We’re really disappointed and very frustrated,” he said.
“The reptile room has been going for 17 years and this is the first time something like this has happened.”
According to the school, the reptile room has the largest collection of animals in a school in Australia.
Anyone with information regarding the theft should call Lilydale Police on 9739 2300 or submit a report through Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.