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Iguana reunited with owner after deputies track down alleged thief

May 31, 2012 |  6:19 pm

The only thing the thief took from the Bellflower auto shop the night of Dec. 9 was an iguana named Lizard.

The iguana had lived in a cage at the front of Performance 4-Wheel Drive for about 17 years, owner Ken Schmidt said. Until, that is, Schmidt found the front window shattered and Lizard missing.

But detectives recovered blood at the scene and traced the crime to a Downey man identified as Jesus Alcatraz, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said. Detectives served a warrant at Alcatraz's home and found an illegal handgun, hashish oil and gang paraphernalia.

And there, sitting in a cage, was Lizard.

Detectives called Schmidt on Thursday morning with the news.

"We got him back," Schmidt said from his auto stop. "It's really an exciting day for us."

Lizard used to belong to an employee, Schmidt said, and was supposed to stay at the shop for only a few weeks. That was more than 17 years ago.

Now, neighbors stop by to pet the 4 1/2-foot long, 30-pound iguana and feed him treats.

"When you have a pet for that long, all the customers know who he is," Schmidt said. "He’s just been a shop mascot."

Alcatraz was booked in the Lakewood sheriff's station jail on charges of burglary, illegal possession of a firearm, cultivation of marijuana and possession of hashish oil, officials said.

As for Lizard? He's sitting safely in his own cage, staring out the shop window.

"He's happy to be back," Schmidt said.

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— Kate Mather

twitter.com/katemather

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