Tortoise thieves make quick getaway

SINGAPORE Mon Feb 2, 2009 1:49pm EST

Star-patterned tortoises swim at a zoological park in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad July 4, 2007. REUTERS/Krishnendu Halder

Star-patterned tortoises swim at a zoological park in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad July 4, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Krishnendu Halder

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SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Ten rare and expensive tortoises have been stolen from a private museum in Singapore, its third theft in two years, local media reported on Monday.

The thieves struck on Saturday, escaping with tortoises worth S$75,000 ($49,730) that were on display at the Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum.

Three endangered radiated tortoises, one of the rarest tortoises in the world, and seven Indian star tortoises were stolen, owner Danny Tan told local media.

"I opened the tortoise museum to educate the public about tortoises, yet thefts happen. Of course I feel disappointed," Tan said.

Trade in radiated tortoises is illegal due to their endangered status, while Indian star tortoises are banned as pets in Singapore.

Police said they were investigating.

(Reporting by Kash Cheong; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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