A young couple showed up at the Cleveland Park Petco on Sept. 9 with an unusual request: They wanted information on snake adoption. When the clerk clarified that Petco was a store and only exchanged snakes for cash or credit, the couple went into the aisles and came back with scaly new pets in cardboard cases. Perhaps the price tag was a shocker, because they soon had a change of heart and put the snakes back in their cages. Or at least, that’s what they pretended to do, according to Andy Solberg, a D.C. police department commander.

As the couple walked out the front door, the clerk noticed an unlikely wiggle in the young man’s pants. The clerk gave chase and stopped the thief, who surrendered a $50 king snake from each pocket. Police caught up with the couple two blocks away, discovering an $80 ball python nestled in the woman’s knickers. The young man, 21, and his female accomplice, 28, were arrested.

Solberg says this is the first snake thievery he’s heard of since an incident about 15 years ago, when a man stole a snake, stuffed it in a sack, took a bus across the Duke Ellington bridge, and got bit. That hot snake had poisonous venom, and the thief nearly died.