Stony Plain RCMP are trying to figure out who stole thousands of dollars worth of Japanese Koi fish from a woman’s backyard pond and then left them to die in a nearby parked car.
Bernice George, 64, called police June 5 to report the bizarre incident after her 40-year-old son noticed lawn ornaments were knocked over and fish were missing. All of the fish were there at 8: 30 p.m. the previous evening when he fed them, she said.
“Out of the 15 that I had, 11 of them were killed. I’ve got four left,” George said Sunday.
George initially assumed someone stole the fish to stock their own pond. She was shocked the following day when her neighbour found all of the fish dead. The neighbour’s four-year-old son spotted the Koi in one of his family’s vehicles, a car that had recently broken down and was parked, unlocked, in their driveway off the back alley.
“Some fish were lying on the front seat, some were in the back on the floor, some were between the two bucket seats,” George said. “They were all dead. It was terrible.”
A bucket George often uses to clean the pond’s skimmer and a net she didn’t recognize were left in the alley near the car.
George bought the fish for about $100 each nearly a decade ago, when they were about 10 centimetres long. The Koi have since grown to between 30 to 45 centimetres and are valued at $300 to $500 apiece, she said.
“I had a lot of varieties,” George said. “Not only were they expensive but I’ve had them from the time they were little and you become attached to them, just like you do with any other animal you’ve had as a pet.”
The manager at Aquarium Central in downtown Edmonton said the price of Koi fish can vary widely depending on their markings and size.
“It can range from hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars for a Koi,” said Tuan Nguyen. “Anything that’s rare, basically, is more expensive and fish are no exception.”
Stony Plain RCMP could not be reached Sunday to comment on the investigation. But police said in a news release issued right after the incident that officers were investigating the theft of the black, white, orange, red, yellow and gold Koi.
Investigators found a ring, a key chain with car keys and a pole for a fish net at the scene after the fish were stolen, the release said.
George said she doesn’t intend to replace the Koi at this point.
“Something isn’t right with these people, whoever did it. I can’t understand why they would take the time to catch them just to throw them in the back of a car to watch them die,” she said.
“I think the image of seeing them in that car dead like that will probably stay with me for a long, long time.”