A man walked into the San Antonio Aquarium one day in 2018, saying he was with the company that sold the place their salt. The last batch of salt had been bad, he said, so he had to test all their water to contain the problem. Something seemed a little off about the guy, whose name was Anthony Shannon. He wasn’t the usual salt deliveryman, you see. But they gave him free reign of the place because bad salt is a serious matter.

One month later, Anthony returned, without anyone recognizing him. Now, he was in a group of three—two men, and a woman with a baby stroller. Having previously cased the joint, he felt very comfortable approaching one exhibit, the one containing Miss Helen, a 16-inch horn shark. Miss Helen lived in an open-top pool, where brave visitors dipped their hands in and pet the animals. After lingering an hour waiting for all employees to be distracted, Anthony pulled out a net, lowered it into the pool, and scooped Helen out. 

The other man grabbed a bucket to store the shark. The bucket contained a cleaning solution, which of course made it an unsuitable medium for sharks, but he simply dumped the fluid into a tank. Staff would later scramble to deal with this disaster, and for now, the gang stashed the bucket with Helen in the baby stroller

They escaped notice this long, but as they left the building and approached their getaway truck, staff finally approached them, realizing something was up with this throuple. The two men left the woman to keep their pursuers occupied, loaded the stroller into the truck, and drove off. Staff now figured out what had happened and feared for the worst. Police would be able to track down the vehicle, they supposed, but based on this crew’s bleach maneuver, they didn’t know or didn’t care about fish welfare. Miss Helen would probably be dead in a matter of hours.

And yet when police did track down the truck two days later, and investigated the house where it was parked, they found Helen was doing just fine. Rather than accidentally killing the shark immediately (even the transfer to the cold water bucket had risked killing her), butchering her, or selling her to a buyer, the crew had set up their own aquarium in their garage, and from the looks of things, all the animals there were thriving. Five sharks and dozens of other fish lived in the private aquarium. The gang knew how to set up a marine environment and keep their pets happy. 

Anthony claimed his motive in all this was to give the shark a better life. Animals in the San Antonio Aquarium kept dying, he said. This was technically true, but that might say more about the number of fish and their short lifespans than it does about professional negligence. Some people who heard this story sided with thieves. Afterward, 15,000 signed a petition asking the place to close their open-pool exhibit—not for security reasons but because sharks don’t like being touched. 

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For more animal napping, check out:

The Great Philadelphia Insect Heist

An Autistic Flutist Steals $159,000 In Feathers For An Underground Community Of Fishermen

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Follow Ryan Menezes on Twitter for more stuff no one should see. 

Top image: San Diego Aquarium

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