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Two charged for turtle thefts
0520 diamondback terrapin
Five juvenile diamondback terrapins, like the one shown here, were stolen from the Tybee Island Marine Science Center on Sunday. - photo by Photo provided.
Two Hinesville residents have been accused of stealing five diamondback terrapins from the Tybee Island Marine Center.
Desiree Pulse, 19, and Thomas Stewart, 21, were in the Chatham County jail Tuesday, awaiting arraignment. They were arrested by the Tybee Island Police on Sunday and have been charged with theft by receiving stolen property, according to Tybee Island Police Chief Jim Price.
Price said Stewart was prodding for information on raising turtles when the center’s staff discovered the turtles were missing.
“He was asking about how much saltwater goes in the tanks and I think they got a little suspicious,” Price said.
That is when the staff called police.
Upon arrival, Price said the two gave police permission to search their vehicle and that is when the officers discovered the stolen turtles.
“Police officers went down to the beach to retrieve their keys and while they were standing there they noticed one of the turtles had popped its head up out of the sand,” he said. Four others also were found in the sand.
Price said police found four of the five turtles at the scene.  
“They gave no reason for taking the turtles,” Price said, “And really, there was no reason to take the turtles. It was just sheer stupidity.”
Diamondback terrapins are salt marsh-dwelling turtles that can also be found in estuaries and tidal creeks along the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
Due to numerous populations of terrapins being depleted by hunting, driven in part by the popularity of turtle soup, Georgia has made the diamondback turtle a “species of concern.”
Hunting or fishing for the turtles is not permitted along the Georgia coastline.
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