A Homestead man is facing a grand theft charge after he allegedly stole, then sold, his neighbor's pet monkey.
Oscar Leiva, 21, was arrested Sunday night and booked into Miami-Dade jail, where he was being held on $5,000 bond Monday, records showed. Attorney information for Leiva was not available.
Officers responded to the neighborhood in the 400 block of Southeast 8th Street after the monkey's owner, Vanessa Di Gennaro, reported it missing, according to an arrest report.
Di Gennaro said she was cleaning her home and had left the monkey, Zoe, in her backyard. When she went to check on her, the monkey was missing.
"She's my baby, she's my kid. She goes everywhere with me. I love her to death," Di Gennaro said.
Di Gennaro said she had posted fliers in the area and received a call from a witness who told her the monkey, a white tufted marmoset valued at $2,900, was at Leiva's home, the report said.
Officers found Leiva, who said the monkey was in his kitchen and he thought it was a rat so he caught it. He said he realized it was a monkey so he put it in a cage in his room, the report said.
Leiva said the monkey climbed on his shoulder and he tried to grab it but it tried to bite him, the report said. He said he fell asleep and the monkey ran away.
But the witness said Leiva told him he had stolen the monkey and sold it for $900, the report said.
The suspect's mother believes he's innocent. She told NBC 6 in Spanish that her son does not have the animal.
"I'm surprised that there are people that are that evil on one hand and also people that are good that say 'hey, this is where she is,'" Di Gennaro said.
Di Gennaro said she's worried about Zoe's safety and is offering a $2,000 reward for her return.
"She's a very delicate animal on top of everything, she's not like a dog that you can leave alone. They get into things, they hurt themselves really easy. You have to watch them," she said.