Two men have admitted to stealing a shark from an aquarium in Texas after disguising it as a baby and putting it in a push chair.
The incident occurred at the San Antonio Aquarium, where CCTV footage captured the thieves sneaking the shark out of the building.
Joe Salvaggio, Leon Valley Police Chief, told reporters that the men had confessed to the crime after officers showed up at one of their homes with a search warrant, reports Fox.
The female shark, known as Helen, is a 1.5-foot-long horn shark, and is said to be worth about $2,000. Helen received a hero’s welcome from employees as she was returned to the aquarium, with Salvaggio adding that the shark was in ‘very good condition’.
According to investigators, the two men, along with a female suspect, removed the shark from an open tank where visitors can interact with the sea life.
In a statement, the aquarium said the thieves ‘staked out the pool for more than an hour’ before reaching in and taking the shark.
The trio managed to get hold of the shark by first grabbing it by its tail then wrapping it in a wet blanket. The men then put the shark in a bucket, which they then put in the bottom of the baby stroller before pushing it out to the car park and putting the bucket in their truck.
In the process, the group also allegedly dumped a bleach solution – usually used to disinfect tools – into the cold water exhibit filtration system.
— Renee Santos (@RSantosTV) July 31, 2018
The aquarium said that this caused ‘harm to other wildlife’, and added ‘if it weren’t for the fast acting experienced staff, the bleach would have done more damage.’
Speaking to KABB, the aquarium’s general manager Jenny Spellman said one of her employees spotted the suspicious group and alerted management.
Jenny confronted the group in the parking lot, but the men denied her request to look inside their truck.
The thieves obviously knew what they were doing, and that one of the men kept several ‘marine animals’ at his home in ‘almost a mock-up’ of the aquarium.
He very much knew what he was doing and kept that animal alive and was able to continue to see that animal thrive, which is pretty shocking to all of us.
Investigators believe the man was taking the shark to replace one of his own that had recently died.
Authorities were able to use the license plate of the truck to locate the suspects. When they entered his house, police found the horn shark ‘thriving’ in the home-made aquarium.
Police said one of the suspects is a 38-year-old male who could face felony charges. Right now, the two male suspects are facing charges for theft between $750 and $2,000. The third suspect has not confessed, and police are unsure if she will also face charges.
Thankfully, Helen the horn shark survived the ordeal and is now doing well back at the aquarium.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.