Aquarium: Man posed as salt supplier to get access to aquarium exhibits before shark theft
The San Antonio Aquarium says one of their employees remembers a shark theft suspect posing as a salt supplier to gain access to exhibits, potentially as a way to figure out the best method to steal the shark.
Surveillance video showed three suspects stealing a horn shark from the Aquarium on Saturday and walking away with it in a stroller, attempting to disguise it as a baby. They were allegedly staking out the tide pool area for more than an hour before snatching it up.
"Last night, on July 30th, Jamie Shank, our assistant Husbandry Director was escorted by officers to the culprits home to identify Miss Helen. Jamie made a statement to the investigators she suspects that the man who stole our shark visited our Aquarium about a month ago posed as an Instant Ocean employee. Instant Ocean is our supplier for salt, he offered to do salt and water testing on all of our exhibits. 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. Our staff informed him that we haven't had any issues with our systems chemical levels, but allowed him to come in any way to be safe. So he spent hours with Jamie on a Monday about a month ago collecting samples from our tanks to take tests. 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," the aquarium posted on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, Leon Valley Police Chief Joseph Salvaggio said two suspects confessed to stealing the shark. He said the horn shark was returned to the aquarium in "very good condition." The next step, he said, is to acclimate "Ms. Helen" into the water.
Authorities used the license plate of the truck to locate one of the suspects. Officials found the horn shark "thriving" in the home, because it appeared the suspects had experience working with these animals.
Police released photos of the home where the stolen shark was being held:
"Luckily the thief was someone who knew what he was doing," Salvaggio said.
Right now, the suspects are facing charges for theft between $750 and $2,000. The third suspect has not confessed and police are not sure if she will face charges, Salvaggio said.
Anthony Shannon was one of three accused in the shark theft, but it is unclear at this time if he was the one who posed as a salt employee or not.
Jamie Shank with the San Antonio Aquarium said they were not sure the horn shark was going to survive.
"She's a little fighter," Shank said. "She's a little survivor."
The value of a horn shark is about $2,000, officials said.