78-year-old Moses the turtle has been missing for more than two weeks. His owner, 83-year-old Gloria Todd of Catonsville, Maryland, believes that Moses was stolen from a kiddie pool in her yard on Sept. 12. He is about the size of a luncheon plate and Todd describes the male slider turtle as having yellow lines on its head, neck and shell, with long front nails and short back nails. Moses spent hours in the plastic pool in the side yard of Todd's house when it wasn't too hot, to get some sunlight, she said. "I was shocked that he was gone," she said.
"I couldn't believe that someone would come onto my property and take something that did not belong to them, especially a living thing."
Moses was one of two tiny turtles Todd received as a gift from an aunt when she was 5, she said. The other one, whose name she did not remember, did not live long.
Usually, Moses is kept inside, in a washtub in her laundry room. After a veterinarian recommended Moses get more sunlight, he advised Todd to place him in a pool outside on nice days.
It's something she said she and husband of more than 60 years, Pete, have done for more than a decade, usually for a couple hours at a time, several days a week, particularly late in the summer.
Her husband usually brings Moses out to the pool after filling it at what he called a modest depth, so the turtle wouldn't be able to climb out over the edge of it from the surface of the water.
"He loves it," she said. "You could almost see him smile."
Pete Todd said the turtle would often be outside when neither he nor his wife were home.
"On private property, you don't expect something like that," he said about the alleged theft.
Slider turtles are typically found in water and normally live to be 30 or 40, according to Kevin Barrett, reptile and amphibian collection and conservation manager for the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.
With assistance from a local office supply store, Gloria Todd created fliers and distributed them throughout the community and to police.
"They didn't seem too interested," she said about the initial reaction from police. "They report bicycles and lawn mowers and this turtle is much more important to me than a bicycle or a lawn mower."
She heard from police on Sept. 27. They are considering Moses as stolen property, she said.
In more than 20 years of law enforcement, this is the first time Baltimore County police spokesman Cpl. John Wachter has seen a report for a missing turtle, whose picture is now posted at the precinct station.
Gloria Todd remains hopeful that Moses, who she described as a sweet and innocent soul, will be returned home.
"I miss him terribly," she said.