They are bred for their colors, many are imported from Japan, and experts say they can live to be 100 years old. Koi fish have long symbolized a wealthy status, the most sought after breeds costing thousands of dollars.
Multiple Ring security videos have captured surveillance of a man in Westminster using a fishing net to steal koi fish from home and commercial ponds. The thefts began sometime around November 2018, and victims believe it may have been the same perpetrator each time.
A homeowner in the neighborhood said they never thought their koi pond would become a target for fish thieves, but after four robberies, they make sure to use netting to prevent more thefts.
Alan Tong, the owner of Yume Koi and Gardens, thinks it was the same man who broke into his koi store down the street. Tong said he came back after Memorial Day weekend and found that someone had cut through the barbed wire fence and disarmed security cameras.
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"We reported it to the police and didn't get anything on it," Tong said. "Frustrating? A little bit, because it's not the first time we got hit. It's been several times."
In one incident, the thief tried to make a fast getaway and left behind his bucket and a fishnet. Both items have been turned over to police to aid in the investigation.
Experts who buy and sell koi said the fish might show up on resell sites such as Craigslist or Ebay.
Tong estimates that he lost a few thousand dollars because of the thefts. The homeowner around the corner from him said it was an emotional loss because the koi have been in the family for 15 years.