On Saturday, a shark was stolen from the San Antonio Aquarium in fairly dramatic fashion. With the help of a disguise and a ringer, a trio of thieves made off with Miss Helen, a 16-inch-long gray horn shark.
Come Monday, all was well with the cartilaginous sea creature. Through the help of local residents and media, police were able to quickly track down one of the alleged shark-nabbers and are expecting to speak with both of his two accomplices soon.
All three alleged thieves are likely to be charged with felony theft, and authorities are currently conferring with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in order to explore the possibility of federal charges as well.
As for their inspired and cinematic getaway? Maybe not so much.
According to KSAT 12, the two men and one woman were spotted by an employee within seconds of their would-be sea-caper for the ages. Leon Valley Police Chief Joseph Salvaggio said the trio stole the shark from an interactive exhibit where visitors are allowed to reach down and pet different animals swimming through the confines of a shallow pool.
Salvaggio said one of the men apparently picked up Miss Helen by her tail and the others wrapped her up in a wet blanket. After that, the group apparently went into a back room and placed the young shark in a San Antonio Aquarium bucket containing a bleach solution. The bucket was then transferred to a baby stroller while a human baby was carried out by the woman.
Jenny Spellman, the general manager of the San Antonio Aquarium, said she went out to the parking lot to confront the group. Spellman says she asked to inspect the truck where Miss Helen was apparently being hidden, but she was refused; one of the men said his son was sick and that he needed to leave as soon as possible.
Salvaggio said the attempt, while ultimately unsuccessful, was highly professionalized. In comments to My San Antonio, he said:
The individual obviously had some knowledge on how to deal with these types of animals, we said that from the very beginning, otherwise why take it? And when we got into the garage and into the house, it looked like almost a mock-up of [the San Antonio aquarium].
“He knew very much what he was doing and kept that animal alive,” the police chief added.
In a post on Facebook, the aquarium celebrated the shark’s return:
Miss Helen (our horn shark) is in quarantine right now resting. She is doing good so far, and we are hopeful she will recover fully from the shock, and return to her home she is used to. Thank you for your concern, we are excited and so happy to have her back!
While the bleach is believed to have shocked Miss Helen’s system, the aquarium does anticipate that she will survive the ordeal.
[Image via KSAT screengrab]