Hunt on to find owner of 'stolen' Doncaster tortoise living 170 miles from home
An appeal has been launched to find the owner of a rare tortoise thought to have been stolen in Doncaster.
The distinctive pet reptile is currently being cared for more than 170 miles away by a woman in Norfolk - but now she is keen to trace the pet's rightful owner after she discovered it had been stolen.
Trish Reeve, 51, said she bought the tortoise in Gainsborough last year after being offered it for sale by "gypsies" - but last week she says she was told the pet, which she has named Tilly, had been stolen.
She said: "I feel full of guilt and just want to return it to its rightful owner. I have looked after her really well but I can't live with myself knowing it is someone else's pet."
Mrs Reeve, who lives in Ingham on the Norfolk Broads, bought the leopard tortoise, which measures 14 inches long by nine inches wide, last September while visiting family in Lincolnshire.
She said: "I was approached by some gypsies in Gainsborough who said they were selling it. I paid them Â£250 because I thought it was a bargain for such a distinctive animal."
She has cared for Tilly at her home over the winter months, buying it heat lamps and a basket and turning the room under her stairs into a home for the animal.
Added Mrs Reeve: "I understand tortoises like this can be up to Â£2,000, so it is quite valuable. It is quite possible the owner doesn't even realise it is missing because this is the time of year when tortoises hibernate so they might not know it has gone.
She says that she was informed last week that the tortoise was believed to be stolen - and she has since reported it to several local police forces.
She added: "Hopefully we can get her back to her rightful owner."
Anyone who can help should contact Trish on 07542341799.