AUSTIN, Texas – Antone Shannon, 38, was arrested for stealing a female bull shark from the San Antonio Aquarium, police said Tuesday.
The police department in the town of Leon Valley, located about 15 kilometers (nine miles) from San Antonio, on Tuesday released the identity of the main suspect in the unusual theft. Police say that Shannon and a couple of accomplices stole the young shark, known as “Helen,” from the aquarium on Saturday afternoon, smuggling it out of the facility in a baby carriage.
The suspect had removed the shark – measuring about 60 centimeters (2 feet) long – from its tank while aquarium employees were busy or distracted, using a net he had bought at the aquarium gift shop.
After removing the shark, the thief wrapped it in a blanket, put it into a small container of water and wheeled it out of the aquarium minutes later in the baby carriage and loaded it into his car.
An aquarium employee noticed that the baby carriage was leaking water and followed Shannon to the parking lot where, although he was unable to get the suspect to let him look inside the vehicle, he took down the car’s license plate.
In security camera images another two unidentified people can be seen helping Shannon, who had disguised himself with a fake mustache.
Leon Valley police chief Joseph Salvaggio said at a press conference that when officers went to Shannon’s home, they found several marine animals and it appeared that the suspect “knew what he was doing.”
The shark was found to be in good condition, although it requires special conditions and care because of its youth.
Salvaggio confirmed that the suspect initially handed officers a fake purchase receipt for the shark but later freely confessed that he had stolen it.
Helen was returned to the aquarium the same day, and breeding official Jamie Shank said that she will remain under observation for a time to be sure she is not suffering from stress or parasites after the experience.
Bull sharks are aggressive and can grow to be 2.1-3.4 meters (7-11.5 feet) long, weighing between 90-230 kg (200-500 lb) and living for up to 16 years in the wild.