LINDENHURST, N.Y. (AP) – Police in a Long Island village nabbed an unusual suspect today – with a long tail, powerful jaws, sharp teeth and a family rap sheet that stretches back millions of years.

The alligator was sitting on a Lindenhurst man’s front lawn when he went out to get his paper this morning. At the sight of the homeowner, the gator ran to hide in the hedges.

Suffolk County police officers used a dog-catching noose to collar the animal.

The homeowner helped police, grabbing the 3-foot-long gator by its tail and pulling it out of the hedges. Its mouth was then duct-taped shut.

The alligator was taken to the BTJ’s Jungle Pets & Aquarium in West Islip for safekeeping, but authorities later removed it Saturday afternoon.

BTJ owner Tom Niehoff said the gator was healthy and docile, and was probably somebody’s pet.

Authorities don’t know where it came from, but owning an alligator violates state law, said Roy Gross, chief of the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Gross also believed the alligator was probably a pet. He said its owner, if found, could be charged with allowing a wild animal to endanger the public, a misdemeanor.

“This is not the type of pet people should own,” Gross said. “Stick to dogs and cats and birds. It’s a very dangerous animal.”

Gross said the Suffolk County SPCA was taking care of the reptile. On Monday, Gross said, the alligator would be transported to a herpetologist in Massachusetts.

AP-ES-06-24-06 1646EDT

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