Authorities in Florida are still in search of the “Bass Pro Shop Bandit” who stole a 50-pound tarpon from the store.
A customer recorded footage of a young man entering a Bass Pro Shops store with a net, extracting a 50-pound tarpon from a fish pond, and exiting the store with the fish.
The video was shared with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, which posted it on its Facebook page the following day.
View the footage of the perpetrator carrying the fish in the net below.
The event took place at the store located on Gulf Center Drive in Fort Myers on the night of December 20. As of now, the perpetrator remains unidentified.
The Lee County Sheriff’s Office issued the following statement the day after the incident:
“Yesterday evening, a male suspect entered the Bass Pro Shops in Gulf Coast Town Center with a fish net in hand and proceeded to remove a live tarpon from the store’s indoor fish pond. The suspect then fled the store with the tarpon. South District Detectives are working with our Animal Cruelty Task Force, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers in an attempt to locate the individuals involved.”
The individual responsible, along with accomplices who entered the store and documented the incident (authorities have reported at least two others present, one of whom captured the entire event on a GoPro), may potentially face charges of retail theft and animal cruelty. The latter offense carries a potential 5-year prison sentence as a punishment.
“Right now, our Criminal Investigations Division is working to follow leads in the case,” Sergeant Sarah Rodriguez told USA Today/For The Win Outdoors.
Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward for anyone who can identify the thief.
If you have information on this incident or the suspect, you can send it to SWFL Crimestoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS or online at: www.southwestfloridacrimestoppers.com. You may also call the information directly into LCSO at 239-477-1000.