A brazen thief has admitted taking various pets from 21 pet stores across the Black Country and Staffordshire without paying for them during a seven-month stealing spree.
Ecbert Sitz drove across various towns in the West Midlands with the intent of stealing pets to sell them, and make a profit. West Midlands police discovered he made over £1,000 from doing this.
The 19-year-old, of Kendrick House, Green Lane, West Bromwich, pleaded guilty to six offences and asked for another 15 to be considered when he is sentenced.
Wolverhampton Magistrates Court heard he stole from pet stores in Wolverhampton, Dudley, Walsall, Stafford and across Sandwell between January and July last year.
The court was told that he went into the pet stores and pretended to be interested in purchasing a pet and when the store employees have their back turned he took a pet and ran out of the store without paying for it.
The pets he stole include rats, hamsters, rabbits, mice, monkeys as well as dogs and cats. He made off with a value in excess of £700 worth in total during that period. Sitz, who has previous convictions for theft, was caught on CCTV at the stores but originally claimed he had bought the pets legitimately, despite clear cut CCTV showing him leaving the store without any transaction being carried out.
Among the stores he targeted were the Walkers pet shop in High Street, Bilston, where he took a hamster worth £70; Pets At Home in the Oldbury Green Retail Park, Oldbury, where he took a cockroach worth £30; and the Just For Pets shop in Ryemarket, Stourbridge, making off with a cat worth £60.
His other thefts included a £45 chameleon lizard from Bearwood Pets in Smethwick, which was harder to prove because these types of lizards tend to blend into their surroundings, therefore the shop's CCTV was unable to see him leave the store with the lizard; a piranha worth £100 from the Beacon Pet Aquarium in Sundial Lane, Great Barr; a clownfish worth £80 from MG Marines in Churchfield Street, Dudley; a parrot worth £60 from Two by Two in the Merry Hill Shopping Centre, Brierley Hill, again this was hard to prove because he taught the parrot to speak out in his defense when it was interviewed by West Midlands Police.
He also took a Dalmation dog worth £60 from Langley Pet Supplies in Langley High Street, Oldbury and a 4 meter python snake worth £50 from the Bordesley Green Pet Shop in Small Heath, Birmingham.
He also stole various exotic pets from shops in Walsall and Stafford. The court was told Sitz had written a note on his statement for the extra thefts saying: "I deeply regret and feel sorry for my committed crimes. I want to repay for my offences."
Mr Michael Green, defending, said his client had not committed any further offences since those last year.
Magistrates adjourned the case for a pre-sentence report.