$1,000 Reward Offered After Family’s Pet Bearded Dragon Stolen; ‘He Saw Something Under the Little Guy’s Shirt’

Please return Sandy to Petqua at Broadway & 98th Street.

By Joy Bergmann

Shortly before 4 p.m. on Saturday, two young men entered Petqua pet shop at 2604 Broadway (98th Street) and headed downstairs where the tropical fish, turtles and other creatures were kept. Those creatures included Sandy, an almost three-year-old bearded dragon, owned by the Shapiro family. The Shapiros had boarded Sandy and a male dragon at the shop over the holiday weekend, something they’d done at least 10 times over the past few years.

Store manager Sam took note of the young men, having seen the shorter one multiple times before. “He created suspicion around him,” Sam recalls. “He’d tried to sell me some baby dragons about a year ago. I said no.”

As Sam attended to a customer on the ground floor of the store, he made sure his colleague Ed was downstairs. But somehow the men managed to distract Ed for a moment. “When Ed turned back, he saw something under the little guy’s shirt. Ed asked them ‘what’s going on?’ and then noticed Sandy was gone. They went running and Ed yells ‘stop them!'”

Sam gave chase as the men ran out and headed south on Broadway. The short one with Sandy took off toward Amsterdam on 98th; the taller one went toward West End Avenue. Sam couldn’t catch them. He called police and felt awful for the Shapiros. “I couldn’t bear the thought of having to tell them.”

“We really want to find our girl,” says Stacey Shapiro. The family is offering a $1,000 reward for Sandy’s safe return to Petqua, no questions asked. “We just want her back safe and sound.”  Sandy is approximately 20 inches long and travels easily in a simple tote bag.

Shapiro says her sons are particularly worried about Sandy being stolen for breeding purposes. “The disgusting conditions the ‘underground’ breeders have for the dragons are extremely inhumane,” she says. “They aren’t sanitary and they barely feed them.  If they are kept in the same cage with a male, they will likely start to lose limbs as they will constantly fight.  And once the dragon is no longer able to breed, they are left to die a slow death.”

Adult bearded dragons sell for around $300, Sam says. Baby dragons retail for about $100 in his shop. Sandy’s bright orange color makes her especially prized, and female bearded dragons can lay 20 eggs or more at one time.

Officer Stephen Jones from NYPD’s 24th Precinct says their Neighborhood Coordination Officers and animal case specialist will be looking into the theft. Video of the suspects has been captured; if images become publicly available we will post them.

Sam describes the suspects as light-skinned Hispanic men in their early 20s; the shorter one standing about 5’4″ and the other 5’11”.  “They’re kids. Hustlers. Who knows what else they’re into?” he says. “They’re definitely from the neighborhood.”

Officer Jones says the precinct gets a few stolen animal cases each year. Another one happened earlier this month. On May 2nd, a kitten-napping occurred at Manhattan Puppies & Kittens at 552 Columbus (87th Street). The female suspect [seen below] and the “Clouded Jac” kitten, an exotic breed, have not yet been found, store staff told WSR.

NEWS | 10 comments | permalink
    1. UWSHebrew says:

      Disgusting MEN, not “kids”.

    2. swtcurran says:

      Coincidentally I saw a young man on the northbound 6 train Monday afternoon just before 3:00pm with this type of lizard on his lap.

    3. Mother of dragons says:


    4. dannyboy says:

      My fav action description: “They went running and Ed yells ‘stop them!'”.

      Petqua are very nice. They got Suki switched from Health Extension (lots of brown rice) to Animal Frontier (3 animal proteins and grain free) letting me know that Suki was thinking: “What took so long?, while other pet shops in the neighborhood (I won’t name names) figured they had a good thing going by selling brown rice with chicken flavor for a lot of money.

    5. RWC10025 says:

      This family is offering $1000.for a lizard that’s $300 .
      Thieves can make a lot of money, a thousand bucks for giving them back a $300. reptile??
      I guess I don’t understand the emotional connection to a lizard . Do they have a personality 🥴

    6. steve says:

      If my pet was being boarded, I wouldn’t want it in the display area of a shop