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Queens tortoise thief charged after turning himself in, NYPD says

The tortoise named Millennium, left, was stolen from

The tortoise named Millennium, left, was stolen from the Alley Pond Environmental Center in Douglaston, Queens, on or about July 16, 2017, police said. Above, Millennium and Mini Me, right, sit in the grass at Alley Pond Environmental Center on May 24, 2017. Photo Credit: Alley Pond Environmental Center via Instagram

A Queens man was charged with stealing a beloved tortoise from the Alley Pond Environmental Center in July after he turned himself in on Tuesday, police said.

Shawn Waters, 36, walked into the 111th Precinct in Queens around 3:45 p.m. and told police that although he didn’t steal the 90-pound African spurred tortoise named Millennium, he did trade a snapping turtle for him and then sold the tortoise to someone in Connecticut, a law enforcement source said.

But police aren’t buying Waters’ story and believe Waters was the one who yanked Millennium from his fenced-in enclosure attached to the center on or around July 16, the source said. He was charged with grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property, according to police.

Millennium, who is around 17 years old, was missing for about a week before he turned up in Connecticut on July 24, according to cops. He was returned to Alley Pond Environmental Center after the person who got Millennium in Connecticut realized the tortoise was reported stolen and alerted police, cops said.

Waters allegedly deals in buying and selling turtles, according to the source. He also has 26 prior arrests, including charges of assaulting a police officer in August 2001, the source said.

Venus Hall, a staff educator at the Alley Pond Environmental Center, said it didn’t appear that Millennium was injured or mistreated. The center now plans to build a more secure enclosure for the tortoise, she said.

The African spurred tortoise is the third-largest tortoise in the world and the largest mainland tortoise, according to the center.

With Lisa L. Colangelo

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