CLEARWATER, FL (WFLA) – Clearwater police arrested a man after he was caught on camera stealing exotic fish from a pet shop.
Detectives say Cruz Garcia Jr. entered Pet Safari on Highlands Avenue on Jan. 9 with his accomplice, Crystal Dixon, and stole Electric Blue Acaras and Blue Ram Cichlids.
“I could see the two of them over here, kind of looking out towards me,” said store clerk Kayla Kraut.
Kraut was behind the register that day when she said the two came in the store acting fishy. Kraut said Dixon quickly distracted her while Garcia Jr. worked to net and bag the fish.
The fish ranged from $18 to $20 each.
“Just random questions. Anything to keep me occupied,” she said.
Garcia Jr. is seen in the surveillance grabbing fish from the first tank. When Kraut wasn’t looking, detectives said he snagged several more fish from another tank.
With nowhere else to stash the bag, he shoved the fish down his pants.
Kraut said both then made their way to the door.
“The boyfriend came to this fish tank over here, pointed at a fish and said, ‘Oh, that’s a really cool fish’ and then ran out the door,” she said. “I immediately went to where I saw them last and I noticed there were droplets of water coming from the tank. I knew there was missing fish.”
Kraut was able to get the tag number on the vehicle and turn it over to detectives.
Garcia Jr. was arrested on Jan. 19. Investigators are still searching for Dixon.
“I think it’s the first call you ever heard were somebody stuffs live fish down their pants and flees the scene,” said Rob Shaw with Clearwater Police Department.
The fish were not recovered.