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Fishy Felony: Exotic Koi Stolen From NY Family’s Pond

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Koi fish in an aquarium. (AP Photo/Joel Page)

Koi fish in an aquarium. (AP Photo/Joel Page)

Lou Young headshot Lou Young
A native New Yorker, Lou Young joined CBS 2 in June 1994. He has...
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SCARSDALE, N.Y. (CBS 2) – A fishy felony in upscale Scarsdale has police looking for a stash of exotics swiped from someone’s yard, and these aren’t just any fish – they’re a pricy kind of carp called “koi.”

The thieves came across the manicured Scarsdale lawn under the cover of darkness, and headed straight for the fish pond. They took everything swimming in it: 24 valuable Japanese koi fish the Bronstein family had been collecting for the better part of a decade, reports CBS 2’s Lou Young.

“We get a couple of new ones every springtime,” Esther Bronstein said. “We got them very small but some of them, some of them we’ve had about seven or eight years. They were very happy there in the pond.”

Koi are a type of high-end goldfish that can hibernate in cold weather and grow huge over the course of a long lifespan. Wild animals or pets will sometimes grab one or two out of an ornamental pond, but usually leave something behind. Nothing like what happened to the Bronsteins.

“We walked the property, also with the police, to look for any bones, to look for anything,” Bronstein said. “There was absolutely no evidence.”

Even in Scarsdale, where koi ponds are fairly common, this crime is a new one. All police said they can really do is wait to see if someone tries to fence the fish.

Even then, they said, it won’t be easy to reel in a suspect.

“The practical problem that we have is I don’t think we’re going to be able to identify the fish by any distinguishing factors,” Scarsdale Police Lt. Bryant Clark said.

Koi are hard to tell apart, and they’re expensive – the big ones can go for more than $1,000 each.

Experts like Pete Mullins, the owner of Pete’s Fish Place in Hartsdale, say koi command the type of money that motivates criminals all over the area.

“Connecticut, New York, Jersey, Long Island – it happens regularly,” Mullins said. “People steal the fish…sell it, put it in their own ponds – it’s a business.”

The Bronsteins said they’ll start restocking their fish pond in the spring – right after they install motion detectors.

Like bears, koi fish do little more than eat this time of year, fattening themselves up for a long winter at the bottom of their ponds.

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