Reptiles recovered for Fresno's Discovery Museum

March 30, 2013 12:21:51 AM PDT
At least two snakes and a lizard have been recovered after someone broke into Fresno's Discovery Center Children's Museum this week and stole the reptiles.

Fresno police have also arrested a suspect. Officers credit some observant children with helping them identify the suspect, 21-year-old Devin Madej. He was arrested Friday afternoon at a home in northeast Fresno.

Workers at the museum are ecstatic the reptiles were found safe and sound. Many require special care like heat and UV lights, and they were worried many wouldn't make it outside of their enclosures alive.

Mary Ellen Wright held onto Chief the Red Tail Boa Constrictor a little tighter Friday afternoon, after the seven foot snake was recovered from a home in northeast Fresno.

Wright, discovery center director said, "I can't believe it happened so fast, I can't believe they're all ok. I can't believe the community came together like this. I'm just a mess right now."

The reptile was one of four stolen from the discovery center early Thursday morning when police say 21-year-old Devin Madej used a cinder block to break into the building and make off with two prized pythons and a monitor lizard in addition to the boa and cash from the donation box.

Mike Palomino said, "Officer Johnson was able to locate some outstanding video here at this location."

It was that video that captured the attention of some kids, visitors of the popular children's museum who recognized the face caught on camera, and provided police with the name of the suspect.

"There was just some great kids that really stepped up and helped us identify where we needed to go. It's nice to see kids take ownership of this property, what they have available to them and they care and they got involved," Palomino said.

When police caught up with Medaj at this northeast Fresno home they say he revealed the location of the two other snakes.

The reptiles are now home where they belong thanks to the community who support the museum.

The center is still assessing the damage, but they say it's in the thousands of dollars.

Medaj was booked into the Fresno County Jail on for burglary and possession of stolen property.


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