Smith: Story of stolen tarantula has legs

That was quite the unevolved thing to do, to steal a classroom tarantula.

For the ecologically inclined fourth- and fifth-graders of teacher Jamie Daniels' combination class at Guerneville School, the discovery that someone broke in earlier this month and took the resident pinktoe tarantula — Avicularia avicularia — was a lesson in the lower ranges of human potential.

The display of antisocial behavior was made worse by word that the thief or thieves also stole a TV from the kindergarten room.

Of course, the break-in was reported to the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office. The deputy who came out joked with Daniels that a stolen tarantula is something he's not sure he'd want to recover.

What were the chances of finding it anyway?

Not long after, the same deputy responded to a report of a loud party there on the lower Russian River. While at the party pad he spotted, of all things, a fellow with a tarantula.

The deputy approached and advised the man that he might well be in possession of stolen property, as just such an arachnid had been ripped off from Guerneville School.

Days ago, Principal/Superintendent Elaine Carlson was in the office when a man appeared carrying a small cage. He asked her, "Do you recognize this?"

There was a time in her life that Carlson could not have imagined being so elated to see a tarantula. The stranger told her that he'd bought it for $50 from a homeless man.

Most of the people with whom Carlson share the story respond with some variation of, "Pshaw! That rascal was the thief."

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