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Akron store ransacked Robbers steal the most expensive fish, leave dozens of others to die on floor

By Katie Byard

Beacon Journal staff writer

Published on Thursday, Mar 12, 2009

Dozens of tropical fish were killed and many others were taken Wednesday morning from a tropical fish store near downtown Akron.

The owner discovered someone had ransacked the store, smashing some 80 fish tanks and even throwing the store's resident parrot into a display pond.

''This is absolutely inconceivable, absolutely inconceivable,'' owner Steve Mills said as he stood outside Aquatic Interiors Seacave, shaking his head while he spoke with police detectives.

When Mills arrived at the West Exchange Street store about 6:30 a.m., fish were still flopping on the floor amid shards of glass.

Mills saw the parrot's cage in the pond and thought the 21-year-old yellow naped Amazon parrot, named Pat, had drowned.

Mills later found the wet, terrified bird nearby.

''He's bruised on one side,'' said Mills' wife, Amy.

About two dozen fish were stolen; dozens of others died.

Akron police Detective Paul Hooper said it appears one or more burglars entered the

store by breaking out a side window.

The amount of vandalism is unusual, he said. ''I've never seen anything like that in a pet store.''

Steve Mills estimated the damage to the store and the value of the dead and stolen fish at $35,000 ? at least. Also stolen were telephones and a computer that Mills bought two weeks ago.

Mills plans to reopen the store soon. Friends and family members spent much of Wednesday cleaning up.

''I'm not going anywhere,'' said Mills, who also offers an aquatic design and aquarium service business.

''This is his livelihood,'' Amy chimed in.

Steve Mills, 49, and friends had worked hard, turning the store into a tropical rain forest.

He and Amy had been planning a celebration to mark the store's first anniversary ? April 1 ? in its location at 364 W. Exchange St.

''Now, there is nothing to celebrate,'' Amy Mills said.

Until last year, the 24-year-old business had been in a building Steve Mills rented on East Exchange Street. He moved because the University of Akron acquired the property.

Amy Mills figures the burglars know something about the value of fish.

''They took all expensive saltwater fish,'' she said. ''And after they took all the saltwater fish, they busted everything up.''

Freshwater angel fish were among those left to die on the floor.

Other freshwater fish swam in damaged tanks.

Gesturing toward a small oval smashed tank, Amy Mills said, ''They even took poisonous lionfish.''

Two lionfish were stolen ? one valued at $200 and another at $80.

Steve Mills pointed toward a large piece of cream-colored coral, which now has a gash in it.

''I can't replace this,'' he said. ''This is the second-largest piece ever brought into the country in 35 years by the wholesaler.''

Anyone with information about the break-in is asked to call Akron police at 330-375-2464.

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Wow, that is horrible. How senseless. They must have known a little about fish, yet they still chose to kill so many of them, what kind of a person/people would do something like that? I hope they try to sell the fish to someone who will report them.

At least the poor parrot lived :(

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This is awful.

Reminds of me of what happened to our poor school bunnies in the garden when I was young. I won't go into details suffice to say they were needlessly killed for no reason.

Edited by stalepriest
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How horrible. Someone who wants expensive tropical fish but has no interest in them really??? Why would someone smash tanks, he must have been on drugs or something. Poor owner and poor unsuspecting fish minding their own business :( .

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