James Edward Welborn Jr. probably didn’t have primate theft on his mind when he broke into Julie Harris’s home in Mobile, Alabama.
But there was Gizmo, a two-year old lemur, and Welborn allegedly snagged it along with Harris’s TV.
The problem with stealing an exotic animal is that it is much more difficult to pawn off than electronic equipment. So Welborn gave Gizmo to his sister to look after, under the guise that it had belonged to a friend who had been deployed to Afghanistan.
When Harris started to post signs offering a reward for her missing pets, Welborn came up with a plan to ransom the lemur. With the help of his accomplice Brian Sanders, Welborn arranged a meeting with Harris.
“It’s kind of like a bad Disney movie,” George County Sheriff’s Detective Ben Brown said of the pair’s attempt to extort Harris, who had contacted the authorities. Sanders was arrested in January during the drop and the lemur was returned to its rightful owner, unharmed. But Welborn eluded capture.
That was until last week, when Welborn was pulled over on a routine traffic stop. He now faces charges for possession of stolen property
Having finally got their man, the George County Sheriff department had a message for all those who would engage in ape-napping.
“We don’t put up with any monkey business in George County,” Sheriff Dean Howell bragged.