Thieves swaddle shark and smuggle it out of aquarium in a baby stroller
Police rescue Helen the horn shark from crafty captors and return it to San Antonio Aquarium
Helen the grey horn shark is home safe and sound after being plucked from her tank at the San Antonio Aquarium and wheeled away in a baby stroller.
"Right now she's doing great," Jenny Spellman, the aquarium's general manager, told As It Happens guest host Piya Chattopadhyay.
"It's a happy ending for us for Shark Week."
Spellman was in her office at the aquarium on Saturday when an employee called her to report that a suspicious man had emerged from the employee backroom pushing a baby stroller dripping with water.
He was accompanied by another man and a woman carrying a baby.
Spellman said she and the employee followed the trio to a truck in the parking lot and confronted them.
"I said there's been some reports of a theft and it looked pretty suspicious that they had some water dripping and I needed to do a search of their vehicle," Spellman said.
"The man I spoke with said they were dripping water because his Yeti cup spilled into the stroller and they needed to leave right away because his son was sick."
He then sped off, Spellman said, leaving the other two behind.
Caught on camera
Despite the bizarre circumstances, they did not yet have any evidence of wrongdoing, Spellman said. So they left the pair behind and went back inside to review the aquarium's security footage.
The video, which the aquarium posted on Facebook, shows the trio huddled around the shark exhibit, where visitors are welcome to touch the animals.
"One of the men was reaching in, trying to catch the shark with his hands," Spellman said. "And when he realized that wasn't working, he pulled a net out of the front of his pants."
They scooped up the 40-centimetre shark and the two men slipped off into another room with what looks like a towel or a blanket.
Spellman said the staff believe they stole a bucket from the back room, filled it with water, plopped the shark inside, and wrapped the whole thing up.
They emerged a few minutes later, carrying swaddled bundle, which they placed into the stroller and wheeled out of the aquarium.
Two men confess
Luckily, a fast-thinking employee wrote down the man's licence plate before he took off.
Police were able to quickly track the suspects down and rescue Helen.
"We are happy to get the shark back home," Leon Valley Police Chief Joseph Salvaggio told ABC33.
Two men confessed to stealing the sea creature and are facing charges of theft between $750 and $2,000, police said. The woman has not confessed and police said they are not yet sure whether she will face charges.
Spellman said she has no idea why the people abducted Helen, but they seemed to be well prepared for the job.
"In their garage they had some pretty expensive set-ups where they had areas for sharks of this size and they had some other animals that were pretty large," she said.
Officials said the horn shark is worth about $2,000 US.
Written by Sheena Goodyear. Interview with Jenny Spellman produced by Ashley Mak.