One of the key duties of an aquarium is to instruct the public about science. Typically this takes the form of people viewing rare marine life and discovering interesting facts about them. Forensic science usually doesn’t enter into the picture.
Some Texans just like to be different.
While theft is a fairly common problem at retail stores and museums alike, aquariums typically don’t have to worry about it. Access to the smaller tanks is generally restricted from the public for fear of a potentially toxic element being introduced to a creature’s environment, and larger tanks involve creatures too bulky to heft from the water.
In San Antonio, however, a small crime ring was created with the purpose of stealing Miss Helen, a horn shark, from the local aquarium. The group – two men and a woman – entered the Aquarium on the afternoon of July 28, 2018. After ensuring nobody was watching them, the pair of men went into action. One grabbed the shark by its tail and walked it over to a location where it could be wrapped in a wet blanket by the other. Then the “shark lifter” retrieved a bucket, the shark was dropped into it by “blanket man”, the bucket was placed into a waiting baby carriage and the shark was walked out.
It was, seemingly, the perfect crime. Except for the security cameras.
A call to 911 did not immediately result in a police officer dispatched, because the aquarium personnel had difficulty convincing the 911 operator the crime was real, they weren’t engaging in a prank.
The video cameras set throughout the venue provided many clear images of all three criminals, from multiple angles. Their vehicle was also captured on film.
It would have been an easy case to investigate, but local media made it even easier. Unable to pass up a story about a stolen shark, the video was shown on all local outlets on Monday morning, and the three were quickly recognized and identified by multiple sources. The shark was back in its tank at the aquarium by Monday evening… to help kick off Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week.
Question of the night: What’s your favorite seafood dish?