Call it Ocean’s Three.
A petite horn shark was reunited with its pals at the San Antonio Aquarium after a trio of aquatic thieves snuck in and smuggled the watery critter out of the facility wrapped up and tucked into a stroller, according to an aquarium representative.
The crew of of criminal not-quite-masterminds crept into the building on Saturday through an exit and cased the tank for more than an hour before moving in for the steal, scooping the shark — dubbed Miss Helen — from her tank and darting into a back room, where they dumped a bucket half-full with bleach cleaner into the facility’s filtration system, plopping the 16-inch-long shark into the bucket, and tucking it into a stroller as they made their getaway, according to the Aquarium spokeswoman.
A quick-thinking staffer raced out to the parking lot to confront the thieves as they put Miss Helen into their red pickup truck, but they didn’t let her search the truck and drove off. Meanwhile, inside, another staffer swiftly dumped sodium thiosulfate into the tanks in order to counteract the bleach and protect the baby seahorses and jellyfish that could have been harmed by the bleach poured into the filtration system, according to the Aquarium.
"Had they noticed it even minutes later, many of those animals would not have survived,” the aquarium’s owner, Ammon Covino, said in a statement. “Life is very delicate. They honestly did a tremendous job; I am so proud of the work they have done."
The police were initially incredulous when aquarium staff called 911, Leon Valley Chief of Police Joseph Salvaggio told KSAT San Antonio.
"When we first got the call, we thought it was kind of a hoax being that it was Shark Week last week," Salvaggio told the news station. "But it turns out someone actually went inside the aquarium there in Leon Valley and stole a horn shark."
Salvaggio told KSAT San Antonio that based on the surveillance video, the sharknappers were experienced in the art of sharks.
‘It's very obvious the person knows what he's looking for and went there specifically for that area," Salvaggio said, according to the station.
The thieves managed to escape the the long tentacle of the law at first, but not for long, according to a representative of the Aquarium.
Two days later, on Monday evening, San Antonio police managed to track the thieves to the home of one of the suspects, where they found a tank in the garage, and a staff member of the aquarium identified a shark swimming around in the tank as the sharknapped Miss Helen, a spokeswoman said.
Jamie Shank, the facility's director of husbandry, told police that she suspected the group had been planning the heist for at least a month, with one of the men posing as an employee of a fish-supply company to gain access to the aquarium and case it for the upcoming raid, a spokeswoman said in a statement.
Police arrested Antone Shannon, 38, and charged him with felony theft, according to MySanAntonio.Com. Shannon, who reportedly admitted to police that he and another man and woman swiped the shark, made bond and was released from jail Tuesday afternoon, according to MySanAntonio.com.
Police told the website they have identified the two alleged co-conspirators, but have not yet filed charges.
Miss Helen, meanwhile, was back home at the aquarium after her two-day adventure, and adjusting just fine, according to the aquarium’s Facebook page.