Johnston County teacher reunited with stolen alligator
Posted July 22, 2015
Updated July 23, 2015
Wendell, N.C. — A Johnston County middle school teacher was reunited with his alligator Tuesday after he reported it stolen last week.
Todd Jason Crocker, an eighth-grade teacher at Archers Lodge Middle School, told deputies the animal, he named Gertrude, was taken from his property on July 17. The alligator was valued at $2,000.
Crocker, who owns another alligator, Wally, said he went to the pond to feed the animals but only one appeared.
“Normally when I go in there with a bucket they come running or swimming to me,” Crocker said.
Only Wally emerged from the pond, according to Crocker.
“I waited and waited,” Crocker said. “She [Gertrude] never came up, so I started looking around.”
Crocker said he looked for holes around the fence of his property and scoured his pond with a net. On the other side of the fence, in a tilapia pond, he found boxes kicked in and a cut in the liner of the gator pond.
When authorities later found tire tracks in the grass, Crocker said he believed Gertrude was gone forever.
According to authorities, the animal was eventually found on Crocker's property in Wendell.
“That’s the weird part,” Crocker said. “It makes no sense to me as an individual because she’s not easy to handle.”
The alligator was returned with scratches on her back, which Crocker believes came from Gertrude being thrown over the fence or being placed in a small crate.
Crocker told WRAL that he uses the alligator to train law enforcement on how to handle incidents with wildlife. He also conducts educational presentations across the state.