GASTONIA, N.C. -- Gastonia police are searching for a man who broke into a pet store and stole several snakes over the weekend.
Police said a man broke into the Reptile Passions store on West Franklin Boulevard early Sunday morning and stole several snakes, including a snake valued at $12,000.
Jonathan McMillan owns Reptile Passions in Gastonia and got a call from the police Sunday that someone had broken-in.
The thief threw a rock through the shops front window. When McMillan pulled up his surveillance system online he could see cops going through the store trying to figure out what had been taken. Then he pulled up the video from the night before and got sick to his stomach.
He could see a thief methodically going through the trays, grabbing snakes, flinging them in the air and stashing them in a bag he’d brought with him. He could even hear the culprit talking to someone on a speaker phone, excitedly reporting that he’d stolen a rare python worth close to $12,000 and pointing out he only had 60 seconds to get in and out.
“It made me just want to throw up to be honest with you,” the store owner told us of watching the video. “There was nothing I could do, I just felt like dying. Just the way the guy was handling my animals and just chucking them into bags.”
And he’s convinced the thief knew exactly what he was doing.
“It was not just a spur of the moment thing, somebody who knew what they were coming in for and someone knew what they were doing, what they were looking for. They left the lower end stuff.”
He's frustrated about the money he's out and worried about the snakes.
“These guys basically just jerked it out and were slinging it everywhere and its dangerous for my animals it really is he could have broke the snakes neck.”
McMillan is convinced the thief plans to sell the snakes and because they're rare - the more people who know what's happened, the better.
That's why the surveillance video is on his shops Facebook page and he's warning breeders and pet shop owners across the country. Asking everyone to be on the lookout.
NBC Charlotte checked in with Gastonia police they tell us so far they have no leads but they and the owner are hoping someone will recognize the thief or know something about where the snakes have gone.
Anyone with information to this robbery is asked to call at 704-861-8000.