Hidden camera captures crook stealing tropical fish worth thousands

POLK COUNTY, Fla. - Polk county deputies are looking for a crook who stole nearly $20,000 from a fish farm and staff believe it may have been an inside job.

After 11 years on the job, Jim Felts says it's impossible to guess how many fish are housed at V W Tropical Fish in Lakeland.

"I don't think we've ever counted them," said Felts. "But I would guess in the millions."

Felts says that makes this crime difficult to solve.

"You can take a net and sift through here, take out 200 and we've never know it."

Which is why a hidden camera watches the business.

Polk county deputies are trying to identify the person captured on video who broke into the hatchery early in the morning July 22.

The mesh-masked thief stole approximately 50 bags of fish, including African cichlids, angel fish and kois, with a market value between $15,000 and $20,000.

"They would have to have had either a farm to take them to or a some pre-staging area where they could get rid of them in a quick manner, go around to different places and offer them for sale," said Felts.

Felts now wonders if this was an inside job or if the woman caught on camera could be a former employee.

She knew exactly where the hidden camera was, and stole it too.

"It was somebody who knew the farm very well or at least knew fish farms very well."

A cash reward is now being offered for information leading to an arrest. You can call Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS.

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