Remember those shoplifters who nabbed over $1,000 worth of clams and corals from Neptune Aquatics in Milpitas, Calif., the other week? Seems these Darwin Award candidates got what they had coming as reefing karma worked again. Recently four suspects were arrested in connection to this heist as well as another Bay Area aquarium store theft with the stolen property from Neptune’s recovered and returned. We were in the Bay Area making a fish store tour over this weekend and were able to chat with store owners Robert and Cerissa Tran to get the latest insight to what went down after the break.
So what did they think of when they got the call from authorities with the news they found the stolen livestock?
“It was shocking news. We never thought we would get them back,” said store co-owner Cerissa Tran. “We’ve been getting bits of the story and are still trying to piece together everything that happened.”
Although it appears at least two of the four were involved in the Neptune’s robbery, it seems this group decided their score from one store wasn’t enough and decided to break into another local store, Ultimate Aquatics in San Mateo.
Sometime in the early morning hours the suspects were spotted putting dry goods into a vehicle by someone passing by. The concerned citizen dropped the dime to local police with a description of the vehicle. Some time later, local police stopped a vehicle matching the description in a routine traffic stop for something minor like a broken headlight, when the officers noticed some fish-related equipment in the truck.
The story gets even stranger. Apparently one of the four people decided to call Ultimate Aquatics to see if they were interested in buying some of the Hydor Koralias and other miscellaneous items lifted from the store. The astute employee realized these numbers of products matched up pretty well with what went missing from their store and told them to bring them by and they’d take a look at the stuff under the pretense of possibly buying the goods.
After an arrangement was made for the suspect to bring the by the gear, the employee called the detectives on the case and gave them a heads up. Dressed in plain clothes and pretending to be customers, the detectives waited for the robber to come on by with the equipment to sell. Once he came by and was arrested, a search warrant was issued for his residence.
When police were searching the residence, an Ultimate Aquarium employee recognized the stolen scoly from Neptune’s and told the detectives who would contact the Neptune’s.
“We got back both clams and the acans were partially damaged but the scoly looks perfect,” added Tran. “We’re just glad we got our stuff back and let that be a lesson to teach those guys out there trying to rob a fish store!”
The shoplifter in the store’s surveillance camera was identified by store employees in a lineup and will eventually be charged in this crime. It appears these thieves have a bunch of priors on their records and possibly some outstanding warrants to boot, so in the whole scope of things prosecution from the grab-and-dash at Neptune’s is probably lower on the priority list but should happen at some point.
We’re just so glad this story has a happen ending and goes to show, karma can be a real bitch! If you are interested in actually buying these corals and clams, you’re out of luck.
“Everything is doing fine and in our tanks,” noted Tran. “But we can’t sell them yet because they’re still considered evidence.”