Criminals have existed since the beginning of humankind. And that’s because just as there are decent law-abiding citizens, there are also people who are intent on breaking all the rules and causing disruption to the general order of things.
But while being a criminal is a pretty nasty business, there’s no denying that there’s a special kind of cunning and skill that many of these lawbreakers have. I mean, just think back to the movie, Catch Me If You Can. The 2002 crime film centered on a teenager who managed to pull off a series of cons worth millions of dollars.
The precocious fraudster did this by impersonating a pilot, a doctor and a lawyer – and the crazy thing is, it was all based on a true story.
But while successful criminals seem to be innately cunning, sharp and sly, there are, of course, those criminals who should consider sticking to their day jobs. Or just get a job full stop.
It’s true – some people just aren’t cut out for a life of crime. And I have one particular trio of criminals in mind. It consists of two men and a woman – who are yet to be identified – and they are wanted in connection with the robbing of, get this, a shark.
Yep, just a week before Shark Week was set to begin, the thieves stole a female horn shark, named Miss Helen, from the San Antonio Aquarium, according to the Leon Valley Police force in Texas.
Now, I’m no criminal, but I’m convinced that one’s main priority when committing an illegal act should be, well, to not get caught.
You would think this would have been obvious to the criminals, but if you choose to kidnap an animal from a tank which is open to the public, then there will obviously be surveillance cameras capturing your every move.
And let’s face it, once there’s CCTV of you carrying out a crime, it’s going to be pretty hard to deny that you did it.
Watch the footage of the thieves in action:
According to Joseph Salvaggio, the Leon Valley Police Chief, the trio took the 16-inch shark from an open pool where visitors are permitted to directly touch the numerous species that live in the tank.
Salvaggio went onto explain how one male member of the group grabbed the shark by its tail while the other two wrapped it in a wet blanket. They then went into a back room, put the shark inside a bucket and placed the bucket in a baby stroller.
According to the general manager of the San Antonio Aquarium, Jenny Spellman, one of the employees there noticed what was going down and notified management straight away.
She also explained that the bucket they placed the shark into was a San Antonio Aquarium bucket which contained a bleach solution and that the solution could have caused a disturbance to the shark’s system.
“When we first got the call, we thought it was kind of a hoax being that it was Shark Week last week,” Salvaggio said. “But it turns out someone actually went inside the aquarium there in Leon Valley and stole a horn shark.”
Salvaggio believes that the thieves must have had some prior knowledge of aquariums and most likely went to the aquarium specifically to get that particular shark.
“It’s very obvious the person knows what he’s looking for and went there specifically for that area,” Salvaggio said. “We got a good look at the person – or persons involved. There are three people involved.”
Spellman said the trio were trying to pass the shark off as a baby and that as soon as the situation was made known to him, he went out into the parking lot to confront the thieves.
When Spellman asked to search the truck, they refused, and one of the men claimed that his son was sick and that he needed to leave as soon as possible. The man then got inside the truck and drove off, leaving the other man and woman behind.
Police managed to track down the truck and promptly began an investigation into who was behind the wheel at the time of the incident.
The suspects are facing felony theft charges in connection with the case. Salvaggio said police are also considering filing federal charges against the shark thieves, adding that he expected the shark would not survive.
While horn sharks are carnivores, Salvaggio explains that their diet mostly consists of crustaceans, which means they are a species of shark well-suited to the environment of an open aquarium.
“We’ll be surprised if the shark survives. We sure hope it does, but being outside of that environment that it’s made to be in – the warm water, the salt water – there’s a good chance it won’t make it.”
Well, you’ll be pleased to know that Miss Helen did indeed survive. In fact, she was returned, safe and sound, on Monday night after being snatched over the weekend.
It is now alleged that a man named Robert Berlanga tried to sell Miss Helen for $300 on Facebook. It is unclear whether he had any links to the incident at the aquarium. The post has since been deleted.
It is believed that two people have confessed to stealing the shark. And all I want to know is, was it really worth it, guys?
We’d like to take this opportunity to wish Miss Helen all the best in recovering from her ordeal.