Stealing Paradise

Dapple made flesh
Stolen, not scanned
Better use a cattle brand.

Haiku by Tom Torkildson

I’m awed at the creativity of the criminal mind. Just when you think every conceivable scam has been exploited, you hear about something like this – the theft of $20,000 worth of koi by two guys posing as employees of an “aquatic solutions” company, complete with uniforms and business cards.

They stole about 400 koi from the pond at a corporate park outside Washington, D.C., pulling off the heist in broad daylight, in sight of security guards and office workers who didn’t realize what had happened until after the culprits were gone.

The corporate park pond where $20,000 worth of koi were stolen.
The corporate park pond where $20,000 worth of koi were stolen.

Koi theft is more common than you’d think, but typically under-reported by the media. Some other recent examples: $8,000 worth of koi stolen from a New Jersey garden center … a burglary of $10,000 worth of fish from a home garden near Oklahoma City … eight koi from the University of Wisconsin …nine from a Florida woman … 25 from a family pond in Scarsdale, N.Y.

And it’s happened to us in the tranquil paradise of Cape Cod.

My wife, Jo Anne, tends to some three dozen ornamental goldfish and koi in the ponds at our Truro home. While we were away, the koi were taken. Only the koi -- so we know the thief was not a heron, raccoon, cat or fox.

Ours was more than a financial loss, even though we don’t consider our koi to be investments. They were our pets. Each had been named by my wife: Old Yeller … Sarge … Princess … Iris … Creamsicle … Ringo … Cardinal Wolsey … Marigold … Boston Blackie … Glitter. Each was individually chosen by Jo Anne from koi farms on Cape Cod. Many were with us for more than a decade. Some, like Old Yeller, had grown to 16 inches or more in length and $2,000 or more in re-sale value.

“Old Yeller” is prominent in this family photo from happier days.
“Old Yeller” is prominent in this family photo from happier days.

Why all this fuss over a fish you can't even eat? Because collectors will pay as much as $25,000 for a single championship koi. They enter their prized specimens into competitions. And with increased use of water features and oriental themes in landscaping, these gorgeous members of the carp family have gained popularity in American gardens.

Call the criminals what they are – koi kidnappers. These aren’t opportunistic thieves. They come fully prepared to steal our pets. 

Even if your koi pond can’t be seen from the street, your fish aren’t safe. Koi ponds can be seen via Google maps and earmarked for savagery.

Although our ponds can’t be seen from the street, the bad guys found them—and took the koi.
Although our ponds can’t be seen from the street, the bad guys found them—and took the koi.

How to stop these criminals?

Micro chipping has been around for a while, which is an effective way of identifying koi. Now a new technique has been developed – “fingerprinting” koi with their DNA, as is done for dogs and cats.

As for the Yaremkos, we’re in the process of installing hidden video surveillance cameras that will capture a crook’s face – whether in daylight or dark of night -- on a flash drive we can hand to the Truro police.

Message to koi kidnappers whoever you are: you can’t steal paradise, not even a piece of it!

In my next blog, “Let’s Strangle Siri”


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  • published this page in Blog 2014-10-27 10:12:03 -0400