RIVERVIEW (FOX 13) - A very rare, very expensive snake was among items stolen during a break-in at a Riverview home this week.
Four guns, $1,500, and a 6-foot, white Leucistic boa constrictor, worth as much as a Mercedes, were stolen from the home of a snake breeder, who says there is only a handful of this kind of snake in the U.S.
The victim, Daniel Rigsbey of KD Reptiles, says the snake is a rare gem that someone likely targeted.
Rigsbey breeds many species of snakes at his Riverview home, but the stolen snake, sometimes called Princess Diamond, is one of only a few Leucistic boa constrictors being bred in the U.S. Of the nearly 600 snakes Rigsbey keeps at his home, only the one was stolen, leading him to believe the thief knew what they were after.
"They're very rare. There's probably only six breedable Princess Diamonds in the United States," Rigsbey explained. "Not everyone will open a snake tank and pull a 6-foot snake out."
Rigsbey says the stolen snake was not quite ready for breeding, but if she were to have offspring, they would be worth about $200,000. But aside from the monetary value, he hopes the snake will be returned for a more important reason.
"Please return the snake. It's very valuable to us. It's also my son's favorite snake," he said.
Rigsbey is now offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to his snake being returned safely. CrimeStoppers Tampa Bay is also offering a reward for tips leading to an arrest.
"It's very frustrating. She was the pride and joy of the company. We have a couple like her but nothing her size," Rigsbey said. "It breaks my heart every time I walk by and see [her tank] empty."
HCSO says the suspect or suspects broke into Rigsbey's home sometime between 11 p.m. Tuesday and 7:06 a.m. Wednesday. The rear door had been pried open, deputies say. Rigsbey, meanwhile, has taken steps to make sure this doesn't happen again - adding cameras, alarms, and around-the-clock staffing.
Anyone with information about the theft or the whereabouts of the snake, guns, or potential suspects is asked to call HCSO. Anyone who wishes to remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward must first submit their tip to CrimeStoppers Tampa Bay by calling 1-800-873-TIPS (8477), or online at www.crimestopperstb.com.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office may be reached at 813-247-8200.