BANGKOK, Thailand - Call it the Case of the Missing Cobras - all 82 of them.
The deadly snakes were apparently stolen from a Red Cross facility, and police fear they were destined for the stew pot.
The King Cobras had been kept with other poisonous snakes at the Red Cross' compound in downtown Bangkok, where they are milked for their poison to be used as serum for snakebite medicine.
Workers discovered that 62 snakes went missing in January. After 20 more were gone on Feb. 2, Red Cross veterinarian Montri Chiewbamrungkiet filed a complaint with police.
Authorities said they suspect a Red Cross employee stole the cobras, which have never escaped through the steel nets that enclose the cement pits where they lived.
"The veterinarian said he believed that the missing snakes had already gone into cooking pots, and that the thief who stole them must be someone who knows how to handle snakes," said police Lt. Col. Vichien Vatchirasaeng.