PLAISTOW — Police are used to tracking down burglary suspects and stolen merchandise, such as electronics and jewelry.
But this time, they are looking for a small, furry creature that glides through the air — an Australian sugar glider. They are also looking for a bright yellow Volkswagen Beetle.
The tiny marsupial glides from tree branch to tree branch. Their sale is legal — as long as they are bred in captivity. They weigh 3 to 6 ounces.
“It looks like a squirrel,” Plaistow police Sgt. Glenn Miller said.
Miller said police are looking for a heavyset man and two companions who visited Zoo Creatures pet store about 3 p.m. Wednesday and fled with one of the exotic creatures, worth about $300.
The man put the black and gray animal in his shirt pocket and slipped out a side door, manager Dan Bilodeau said yesterday. He and two companions, a man and a woman, hopped into a yellow VW outside the Plaistow Road store and drove off, Bilodeau said.
“He made it look he was getting a drink of water and then he walked out,” Bilodeau said.
Although no one witnessed the theft, it was captured on a video surveillance camera, he said. An employee noticed the glider was missing only minutes after it was stolen, Bilodeau said.
He said pets, especially reptiles, are stolen on occasion. Often, the person who took the animal will return to purchase food.
Since gliders require a special powder-like food, Bilodeau expects the man in the yellow VW will be back.
“They are going to have to buy food from one of the pet stores,” he said. “It’s not like you can go to a grocery store. If you don’t know what you are doing and don’t have the right food, you can kill it.”
Gliders are usually kept in small cages and can live for up to a year on most fruit if not given their special food, Bilodeau said. At that point, they become susceptible to disease.
Gliders are bred in captivity and are becoming increasingly popular as pets, but only a handful of New Hampshire pet stores sell them, he said.
People like them because they are small, cuddly and very friendly, Bilodeau said.
“It actually bonds to you better than a cat or dog,” he said. “I know people who take them any place they go. They are that friendly.”
Bilodeau said the pets are in high demand, but he can only get about 10 a year to sell. The stolen glider arrived at the store Tuesday, and Bilodeau said he probably won’t be able to get another one for about two months.
He has a list of 20 people waiting to purchase a glider.
“As fast as I put them out, I sell them,” Bilodeau said.
Anyone who has information on the theft should call Plaistow police at (603) 382-1200.