Three-legged tortoise ‘Stumpy’ among 15 stolen reptiles recovered in Denver

"Stumpy" the African Spurrred tortoise was one of 15 reptiles recovered when police found Phil Rakoci's stolen SUV on Oct. 18, 2012. (Photo: Dan Gillett)

“Stumpy” the African Spurrred tortoise was one of 15 reptiles recovered when police found Phil Rakoci’s stolen SUV on Oct. 18, 2012. (Photo: Dan Gillett)

DENVER — Police indicated they had recovered a stolen SUV belonging to a man known as “Wildman Phil” Thursday morning. The vehicle had 15 reptiles inside.

Among those reptiles was “Stumpy,” a three-legged turtle who utilizes a wheel as a fourth leg, a 13-foot-long python, four other snakes, a snapping turtle, three tarantulas and a lizard.

Phil’s real name is Phil Rakoci, and he said he traveled to Denver from Casa Grande, Ariz. in his Chevrolet Suburban for a reptile convention this week. He said he made a stop at an Englewood Walmart, and when he exited the store his vehicle was gone.

A police spokesman indicated that authorities discovered the SUV abandoned at West Iliff Avenue and South Quitman Street at approximately 8:55 a.m. Thursday.

Rakoci will most certainly be relieved, considering his postings on Facebook at 4:47 a.m. Thursday: “AMBER ALERT!” Rakoci wrote. “Stumpy the Tortoise has been kidnapped in the Denver area!”

Rakoci went on to say say he didn’t care about the car or the computer inside. He simply wanted to recover his reptiles. “We’re like family,” he wrote.

It seems only natural that Rakoci would feel a special tie to the three-legged tortoise.

According to Rakoci’s website, “Stumpy” was left on his front porch in a milk crate four years ago missing one of his two front legs. Rakoci said that he and “Fabricator” Ken Hillery clamped the 50-pound African Spurrred tortoise in a vise for 24 hours and surgically  attached a bracket and wheel to the outside of the reptile’s shell.

“Stumpy” has been wheeling around on the wheel for the past seven odd years.