6 min read

Thief Smuggles Live Shark Out Of Aquarium In A Baby Stroller

This is CRAZY 😱

It was a crime so strange that, at first, local police thought it was a prank.

Last weekend, a trio of thieves managed to steal a shark right from her tank at the San Antonio Aquarium. Their grand getaway plan? Stash the animal inside a baby stroller. (The toddler whom the carriage belonged to was present for the heist, too.)

In video surveillance footage of the crime, the three suspects can be seen lingering around the shark touch tank at the right-hand side of the frame for nearly an hour until an employee nearby steps away to help a guest. That’s when they nab the 14-inch-long female horn shark straight from the water, wrap her in a wet blanket and toss her into a bucket of water sitting in the stroller.

At the aquarium, the shark is known as Miss Helen.

“Surveillance footage indicates that the suspects brought in a net to capture our shark,” Ammon Covino, chief operating officer for the aquarium, told The Dodo. “However, they didn't have a means of transporting her other than that, so they had to find something. They entered one of our back rooms where they took a bucket that was half-full of bleach cleaning solution (used for disinfecting our tools) and dumped it all into our cold water exhibit filtration system. They then took the sanitation bucket to aid in the transportation of the shark into the stroller, quickly exited up the stairs and out into the parking lot.”

While employees were able to catch up to the thieves, they refused to allow the aquarium staff to search their car before driving off. Luckily, the staff called the police and the shark was located alive in one of the men’s homes nearby. Staffers were also able to neutralize the bleach that was dumped into the water, which could have otherwise killed many animals, including seahorses and jellyfish.

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Miss Helen in her tank | San Antonio Aquarium

When police and aquarium staff arrived at one of the suspects' homes, they discovered he had a full-fledged aquarium setup at his house. It was clear he intended to keep the shark as a pet.

"When we first got the call, we thought it was kind of a hoax, being that it was Shark Week last week," Police Chief Joseph Salvaggio told KSAT, referring to the Discovery Channel's annual shark marathon. “It [the shark] was something he wanted. He had one of these in the past.”

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A close-up of the three suspects was caught on the aquarium's surveillance camera. | San Antonio Aquarium

One of the suspects is already facing theft charges, while charges for the other two individuals are pending. Once the main suspect was identified, aquarium staff realized the same man had gained entry to their tanks a month prior, falsely posing as an employee from an aquarium salt company.

“The man told us that the company he worked for, Instant Ocean, had sent out bad batches of salt so it was necessary to test our water,” Covino said. “Our staff informed him that we haven't had any issues with our system's chemical levels, but allowed him to come in anyway to be safe. We believe that the root of his plan was to get a behind-the-scenes look so he could figure out what to steal and the best way to do it.”

After the dramatic ordeal, Miss Helen officially returned to the aquarium on Monday and doesn’t seem to be suffering any long-term health effects. She’ll be kept in quarantine for the next few days to be monitored and ensure she continues eating normally.

“We feel extremely thankful to have her back, and are amazed at how strong she was to survive the few days of high stress,” Covino said. “She sure is a fighter!”