A classroom pet turtle is back home at Hilliard Darby High School after a substitute teacher removed it Jan. 30.
Mr. Turtle, an approximately 40-year-old box turtle, was returned to its owner, Darby teacher Elizabeth Barber, about two weeks ago, said Stacie Raterman, director of communications for Hilliard City Schools.
The Hilliard Division of Police charged a 37-year-old Mechanicsburg woman for petty theft in connection with the turtle’s removal. It had been a classroom pet for about two decades.
The woman was a substitute teacher, according to Hilliard police.
Investigators used video-camera footage as evidence to charge the woman, said police spokeswoman Andrea Litchfield.
The woman can be seen “walking to the turtle’s tank and making a movement indicative of a person reaching up and into the tank,” according to a police affidavit.
The video shows the woman approaching with an empty bag and, afterward, supporting the bottom of the bag, the affidavit said.
The woman left the classroom with the bag, the affidavit said.
A student reported seeing the turtle in the tank at 2:10 p.m., when class ended for the day, according to the affidavit.
The woman was issued a summons for petty theft, a first-degree misdemeanor, on Feb. 11, and was ordered to appear Feb. 26 in Hilliard Mayor’s Court.
Her case was continued from Feb. 26 to March 18, said David Ball, director of communications for Hilliard.
The woman surrendered the turtle to the court Feb. 27, and it was returned to its owner, Ball said.