A North Augusta man is in custody after police say he filed a false report of a missing mountain lion in Aiken on Sunday.
Billy J. Lunsford, 55, was arrested Monday evening on a charge of providing false information to a public safety officer after he said his black, domesticated mountain lion was stolen from Aquarium Pets on Richland Avenue West, according to Aiken Department of Public Safety Sgt. Jake Mahoney.
Lunsford was arrested by the North Augusta Department of Public Safety before being turned over to the Aiken Department of Public Safety, Mahoney stated.
“I don’t have any specifics right now on how the arrest was made,” Mahoney said. “All I know is we have Lunsford in custody at the Aiken County Detention Center.”
According to an incident report, Lunsford told police early Sunday someone had forced their way through the metal side of the building and stole the mountain lion, valued at more than $35,000. Lunsford said he believed the mountain lion, described as being about 3 feet tall and weighing about 100 pounds, was pulled through a six-inch gap in the wall.
After news of the missing animal made it to social media and residents began to call in, investigators determined the report was fraudulent.