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Something fishy going on ...

Vanessa Papas 1 August 2003
Something fishy going on

Derick van Staaden crouches beside his company's fish pond which was emptied of 42 koi fish by robbers.

Derick van Staaden is an avid koi lover responsible for the feeding and caring of a large koi pond at his business premises in Surrey Avenue, Ferndale. It had taken the business five years to establish the pond which featured fish up to 700 millimetres in length.

One evening robbers lifted the electric gate surrounding the premises off its rails and drained the pond (which usually takes over an hour to do). They stole koi valued at R35 000 as well as a number of exotic water plants and a potted cycad tree.

"The theft must have been planned for quite some time as one does not just remove 42 fish on the spur of the moment," said Van Staaden. "The robbers knew where the drain pump was situated and must have organised appropriate equipment for their transport."

He added the robbers had left two koi in the pond, one had a wound on its head and the other was an albino. Whether they were excluded intentionally or not was unknown.

According to police, koi theft is seldom reported. "I've heard of it happening before but we don't have any records of pond owners reporting the thefts," said Jan du Plessis, spokesperson for Randburg Police Station.

Willem Deveer, co-editor of the South African Koi Keepers Society magazine, said he had also heard of cases of koi thefts and "if it became known there was money to be made from this sort of activity, these numbers would surely escalate."

"It is frightening to hear thieves are stealing koi from ponds. Some of these fish are worth a substantial amount of money. It would make sense if they were being stolen for resale," he stressed. "We will be publishing a warning to other koi pond owners in the next edition."

However, one should not rule out the possibility the fish were stolen for food as was the case with koi keeper, Costa Jackson, last year. Jackson regularly travelled to Japan seeking show-quality koi, subsequently the fish in his pond were worth a substantial amount of money. Two men jumped over his wall and stole two of his prized koi. The men were caught shortly afterwards by security guards - they were braaing the fish, valued at Rl5 000, in a nearby veld.

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Copyright © 2003, Rodney Jones, rtjones@amethyst.co.za, Randburg, South Africa (Last updated on 7 August 2003)