A brazen thief has been captured on CCTV stealing eight snakes worth $9000 from a pet store in Sydney’s southwest.
The man was filmed smashing his way into Macarthur Pets in Gregory Hills early on Sunday morning.
He wasted no time making his way to his target - a rare, two-metre albino Darwin carpet python named Everest.
Store manager Lani Welling believes the man was already familiar with the store.
“He definitely knew what he was doing,” she told 7 News. “He came straight down to Everest so that was the first thing he was after.
He stuffed Everest into a sack, followed by seven hatchlings.
Macarthur Pets owner Fred Deveney said mixing the young snakes with the older python was a bad move.
"It's bad animal welfare for hatchlings to go in with an adult snake. The chances of the snakes surviving and getting eaten is pretty high,” he said.
The staff are desperate for six-year-old Everest to be returned safely.
"He's our big boy, he's our biggest snake here on display and he goes with us. We love him, he's an awesome member of the family,” Ms Welling said.
“People recognise him, people are very devastated online to find that he's gone," she added.
The snakes are worth close to $9000 but Everest holds much more sentimental value. He was strictly not for sale, said Mr Deveney.
"We'd never sell him, we've been offered for people to buy him a lot of times and we've knocked it back every time,” he said.
Some staff members are confident they have encountered the thief in the store asking to buy Everest.
The store is offering a $1000 reward for information leading to the whereabouts or the return of Everest
At the time of the crime, the suspect was dressed in a Nike jumper and an Under Armour hat.
Police are urging anyone who recognises him to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.