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Thief spears fish at aquarium

The burglar shot creatures with a spear gun and took groupers, lobsters, snappers and trout.

©Associated Press

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 28, 2001


The burglar shot creatures with a spear gun and took groupers, lobsters, snappers and trout.

KEY WEST -- Spearfishing is popular in the Florida Keys, but someone forgot to tell a burglar that it's supposed to be done offshore.

Police say someone broke into the Key West Aquarium with a spear gun, shot about 20 creatures and made off with groupers, lobsters, snappers and speckled trout.

"We came in Tuesday morning to find a couple of the animals dead in the tank," curator Bob Cerkleski told the Key West Citizen. "We found spear marks on them and on some of the other fish that were wounded but got away."

The tank also features tarpon, bonnethead sharks and two turtles.

None of the fish stolen Tuesday are rare in area waters.

"It's hard to put a value on fish like that," said Cerkleski, who estimated their monetary worth at thousands of dollars. "It's just a bummer. . . . These fish are like our pets."

Key West police spokeswoman Cynthia Edwards said there are no suspects or witnesses.

The aquarium has added a night watchman and plans to install an alarm.

Cerkleski said two men broke into the aquarium in the mid-1980s, hoping to impress their friends by gaffing two blacktip sharks. A security guard caught them as they tried to push the sharks over the fence.

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