MArch 5, 2013
RICHMOND, Virginia (AP)— Aaron Reinhard will be quick to tell you there are few things as unusual as a king baboon tarantula spider.
Especially when a pair of the expensive Tasmanian arachnids show up in the hands of a 20-year-old willing to part with them for chump change, as police allege.
So when Reinhard, 29, found his soon-to-open Beasts and Bugs shop in Lakeside broken into Feb. 4 and then got wind on the Internet that two of the rare spiders had been purchased in Norfolk for $75 each, it wasn't long before it was case closed, suspect in custody.
"The kid was stupid," Reinhard said Monday. "Those two baboons could easily bring $500."
Henrico County Detective A.M. Gore worked his way through the multi-legged trail of clues, and on Monday, 20-year-old Deion T. Dickens made a brief appearance in handcuffs in Henrico General District Court.
The Virginia Beach resident is charged with grand larceny, breaking and entering, and theft of property for resale.
Reinhard said three youths knocked on the back door of his store in the 6200 block of Lakeside Avenue the day before the theft and immediately focused on the baboons. The next morning, the door was kicked in, and the 7-inch diameter tarantulas, known for their burrowing ability and poisonous bite, were gone.
Reinhard's website, ArachnidsRVA.com, is well-known among spider lovers across the country. He's also a primary supplier of rare tarantulas for the Pet Paradise store in Norfolk where the baboons turned up the day after the theft. When Pet Paradise advertised that two had just come in, Reinhard knew what had happened.
Now he's buttressed his store with new steel doors and security equipment, and Beasts and Bugs is set to open March 15. He's already sold one of the two well-traveled baboons. They hail from Tanzania but likely were bred in Germany, which has had a fondness for tarantulas for centuries, Reinhard said.
"You think about how far the two traveled just to get to Richmond, and it's really something amazing," Rinehard said. "It's great how the theft was solved, and I'm glad no one got bit."
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