April 26, 2021
If police in Worcestershire, England, could “pull a rabbit out a hat,” they would: Darius—rabbit with long floppy ears who measures a record-breaking 4 feet long—has gone missing. He last was seen in his rabbit hutch in on the property of owner, breeder, and bunny aficionado, Annette Edwards.
Police said they were hunting one of the world’s largest rabbits, if not the largest, which went missing on the night of April 10, NBC News reports.
“We are appealing for information following the theft of an award-winning rabbit from its home in Stoulton, Worcestershire,” West Mercia Police said in statement on Monday, April 12. “The rabbit is quite unique in the fact it is four feet in size.”
Darius, who became a 2010 Guinness world record holder for his huge length, was stolen from a garden enclosure in central England.
His owner, Annette Edwards, wrote on Twitter that police were working hard to find her prize-winning pet—and that she had offered a reward of £1,000 (US$1,400) for his safe return.
“A very sad day,” she said. “Darius is too old to breed now. So please bring him back.”
The pair used to tour the country together with owner Edwards donning a Jessica Rabbit style outfit to show off gigantic Darius.
At the time, she said the celebrity bunny was insured for $1.6 million, had an agent, and traveled with a bodyguard.
Darius’ disappearance comes amid a spike in pet theft in England during the coronavirus pandemic. The charity DogLost said it saw reports of thefts rise by 170% in the last year—from 172 dogs in 2019 to 465 in 2020.
Pet detective Jacob Lloyd, head of investigations at Animal Protection Services, which prosecutes US1,000) to £3,500 (US$5,000) in the last year.
“It’s completely disproportionate to what we would normally see,” Lloyd said. “Opportunists and organized criminals have taken advantage in the rise of prices, and dog and other animal thefts have gone up.”
With people in England locked down for much of the year, Lloyd said the need for “companionship” while spending more time at home had led to the surge in demand.
In Darius’ high-profile case, a potential “ulterior motive” could also be at stake, pet detective Lloyd added—likely the work of organized criminals who knew his value.
The U.K.’s Policing Minister Kit Malthouse called animal theft a “vile crime,” in a statement earlier this year. “Let me be clear — pet theft is a criminal offence with a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment and it must be confronted wherever it occurs,” he added.
Singer Lady Gaga’s two pet dogs, Koji and Gustav, made global headlines when they were briefly stolen and returned in February, amid her public pleas and a $500,000 reward. Her French bulldogs were taken in a violent robbery in Hollywood, in which the singer’s 30-year-old dog walker was shot and sustained non-life-threatening injuries.
Research contact: @NBCNews