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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Theft of 2 Geese and a Horse Leads to 5 Years on the Lam

A resident of the Saratov region who spent almost five years on a federal wanted list for stealing two geese, has been sentenced to eight months in a labor camp and a 1,000 ruble fine, regional prosecutors said Wednesday.

Nikolai Stebletsky, born in 1956, a habitual thief and alcoholic, stole two geese from a woman's shed in the village of Perelyub early in 2003 to pay for alcohol, village prosecutor Sergei Vavilkin said by phone Wednesday.

Investigators identified Stebletsky as the thief and ordered him to appear before the village's court for a June 2003 hearing. When Stebletsky failed to appear, a warrant for his arrest was issued, regional prosecutors said on their web site.

Before disappearing, Stebletsky had promised the owner of the geese he has stolen that he would earn money to pay her back. To help in the endeavor, he borrowed a horse from people he knew, Vavilkin said.

"But he never returned the money, and the horse went missing too," the prosecutor said.

It was then that Stebletsky went into hiding and changes his surname to Zhuk, the Russian word for "beetle."

The fugitive was discovered on Feb. 1 hanging around the Pugachyov police station, prosecutors said. Stebletsky was sentenced on Feb. 18 to the time in the camp and ordered to pay 1,000 rubles, or about $40, in compensation for the stolen geese.

"He'll pay for them if he works at the settlement," Vavilkin said, adding that Stebletsky might not want to do it despite the court's order.

Stebletsky faced a maximum penalty of five years for stealing the geese, Vavilkin said.