Shark stolen from San Antonio Aquarium is rescued, returned; 1 arrested
More arrests to come, police say
LEON VALLEY, Texas – A 38-year-old San Antonio man was arrested Monday night in connection with the bizarre theft of a horn shark from the San Antonio Aquarium on Saturday.
The man, who police have not named, was one of three people people captured on surveillance video stealing the shark using a stroller by disguising the shark as a baby.
The female shark was returned to the aquarium just after 9 p.m. Monday.
Salvaggio said the arrest came after a day of investigating.
Police located the truck involved in the shark heist early Monday morning and Salvaggio said when news outlets broadcast the information and surveillance footage, viewers began calling police and pointed to a home near where the truck was found.
Authorities returned to the home Monday night and got confessions from two men who are neighbors. Salvaggio said police are waiting to talk to the woman who is seen in surveillance video with the two men and said he is unsure whether she will be immediately charged.
The other man and woman will be "charged at large," Salvaggio said.
Police said the group stole the shark from an open pool where visitors are allowed to reach in and pet the various species in the tank. Two men and a woman are wanted in connection with the theft.
Salvaggio said one of the men grabbed the shark by its tail while another wrapped it in a wet blanket, went into a back room, put the shark in a bucket and put the bucket in the stroller.
According to Jen Spellman, general manager of the San Antonio Aquarium, an employee noticed what was going on and immediately notified management.
According to Spellman, the men went into a back room and put the shark into a San Antonio Aquarium bucket that had a bleach solution. Two men were seen on surveillance video emerging from a back room, stuffing the bucket into a stroller and leaving the aquarium.
Spellman went out to the parking lot to confront the group about the shark theft. One of the men refused to let Spellman search the truck and said that his son was sick and that he needed to leave immediately.
The man got into the truck and drove away, leaving the woman and the other man seen on surveillance video behind.
Spellman said that the bleach solution the shark was placed in might have shocked the shark's system, which made aquarium staff and authorities uncertain if the shark would survive the heist.
But, to the surprise of police and aquarium staff, the shark was in good health when it was returned Monday night.
Salvaggio said that one of the men had knowledge of aquariums and likely went to the aquarium specifically for that shark.
"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 mockup of (the aquarium)," Salvaggio said. "He had a lot of different marine animals in the home. (He) very much knew what he was doing -- kept that animal alive and was able to continue to see that animal thrive which was pretty shocking to all of us."
According to police, the suspect allowed police to enter the home and pointed them to where the shark was. Salvaggio said that he doesn't think the man tried to sell the shark, but wanted to keep it as a pet because he had a variety of other sea creatures in his garage.
"He had had one of these in the past," Salvaggio said. "I think the animal had died sometime in the past. Obviously he likes those types of animals."
Salvaggio said that the man tried to show police a doctored receipt for the shark, but, Salvaggio said they immediately noticed the receipt was fraudulent.
The marine life in the garage was left in the care of the woman seen in surveillance footage. Police said did not immediately take her into custody because she has kids.
Police have impounded the truck involved in the theft. More arrests are expected in this case.
Salvaggio said police are working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to see if federal charges can be filed.
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