Pet shop fish tank thief caught when he returned to buy goldfish

A goldfish
A goldfish

A thief who stole a fish tank from a pet store was caught when he returned to buy a goldfish.

When Pets at Home staff asked hapless Nigel Darren Ball which type of tank he had, Ball pointed to one near the shelf he stole from.

The dad then filled out his name and address and was arrested later.

Ball, 52, of Walnut Avenue, Peacock, told police: “I went to buy some goldfish but had to fill out a form with my details on it. That’s what got me.”

Wakefield magistrates heard today (Monday) how Ball went to the store on Westgate Retail Park at 5.10pm on May 29 and “nicked” a large hexagonal Aqua One fish tank while no one was looking.

Prosecutor Rory Byrne said: “As brazen as anything he lifted the fish tank off the shelf, as big as it is, and simply walked out of the store.

“Some sight it must have been, he walks from the retail park holding an umbrella and a fish tank, and walks as far as the Peacock Estate. No one saw it at the time.”

The court heard how a £50 fish tank was later missing. Staff then checked CCTV and realised there had been a theft.

Ball later returned to the same store to buy fish to fill the stolen tank.

The court heard he spoke to staff who asked him which sort of fish tank he had.

Ball then pointed to the wall where the stolen tank had been and identified a similar type.

Suspicious staff tried to keep him there and asked Ball to fill in his name and address.

But Mr Byrne, added: “It was his return which got him rather than being identified by CCTV. No pun intended, but the main prosecution witness is Mr Severn, as in the river.”

Ball admitted theft.

Mike Devlin, mitigating, said Ball had earlier dropped and smashed his children’s fish tank while cleaning it. He went looking for a replacement but saw how much they cost and ended up stealing one.

Sentencing was adjourned until next month.