Stolen Gibbon Monkeys From Nebraska Found in Florida: Lee County Sheriff's Office

Twin brothers were arrested in Florida after a pair of gibbons were stolen in Nebraska.

Friday, Sep 20, 2013  |  Updated 3:47 PM CDT
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Two Gibbons were stolen from their owners in Nebraska and taken by twin brothers, Jacob and Michael Ruehlman,to Florida, where state deputies found and arrested the brothers. The rare and endangered breed of monkeys, worth about $20,000 to $30,000 each, were recovered and kept safe until they could be reunited with their owners.

Two Gibbons were stolen from their owners in Nebraska and taken by twin brothers, Jacob and Michael Ruehlman,to Florida, where state deputies found and arrested the brothers. The rare and endangered breed of monkeys, worth about $20,000 to $30,000 each, were recovered and kept safe until they could be reunited with their owners.

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Two stolen Gibbon Monkeys have been found in Florida after being taken from a home in Doniphan, Nebraska, officials said.

The pet monkeys were found in Fort Myers after their owner, Nancy Stephens, called her local sheriff's office saying she suspected the 20-year-old twin brothers, who lived with her during the summer, had taken them, according to a Lee County Sheriff's Office news release.

Meanwhile, Deborah Misotti, the owner of The Talking Monkey Project in Clewiston, Fla., knew both Stephens and the twins through Facebook, where she heard about the theft. She was able to convince the twins, Michael and Jacob Ruehlman, to take her the monkeys, the release said.

"I explained to them that it was not going to go away. They were hoping to sneak the Gibbons back to Nebraska," Misotti told NBC2 News.

They arranged to meet at a Waffle House at Interstate 75 and Palm Beach Boulevard Thursday, but as the twins were driving over, deputies recognized their vehicle and stopped them, the release said. In the backseat, they found a cage with the two monkeys inside.

The monkeys, which require special licenses and permits, can cost $20,000 to $30,000, one pet store owner told NBC2 News. The brothers said they took them because they felt they weren't being treated well.

The Ruehlmans were arrested and charged with dealing in stolen property. They also face charges from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission for not having the proper permits to deal with endangered animals, as well as possible charges from the Hall County Sheriff's Office in Nebraska.

The monkeys were taken to a sanctuary for safe-keeping during the investigation.

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