SAN DIEGO — An elderly man was caught attempting to steal a tortoise from an exhibit hosted by the San Diego Turtle & Tortoise Society in Balboa Park Saturday morning.

San Diego police responded to the scene at one of the community rooms in Balboa Park’s Casa del Prado, after receiving reports of a man trying to take one of the tortoises on display at an adoption event held by the society.

One of the workers at the event, Erick Alara, said he saw the man enter the adoption event with a shoulder bag.

While he had his back turned, Alara said he believed the man attempted to grab one of the tortoises to put in his bag. When Alara turned around, he saw the man with his hand in the bag.

“I turned back to see him and he had his hand in his backpack,” he said. “I counted the tortoises and we were one off, so I knew he had taken it.”

Alara said his brother-in-law confronted him, prompting the man to pull the tortoise out of his bag to hand back to the worker.

SDPD and Balboa Park rangers detained the man after the incident. He was cited for attempted theft, according to law enforcement.