TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) - A brazen theft was all caught on camera. You won't believe what was stolen and how valuable it is.
At store that deals mostly with honest collectors of coral reef, the last thing they want is a coral thief.
"It's a hobby, a specialized hobby. So people who like the hobby, they don't really come in and steal," Saltwater Paradise owner Annette Kozak said. "People think they can come in my store and steal from me? Put their hands in there and think no one's watching them? They got a big thing coming. We are."
Annette Kozak and her husband have owned Saltwater Paradise on Main Street in Tonawanda for 20 years. On Friday they took the day off, and left the store in the hands of a worker. On Sunday, they noticed $300 worth of coral was missing.
Annette say the thief took the closest camera and turned it away from the tank, thinking then no one would be able to see. But little did he realize the next closest camera just 10 feet away caught the whole thing on tape.
The video shows two men enter with a young child. Then they were joined by a woman and another young man. Annette has seen the man with the gray hoodie before. He calls himself Chris.
"He comes in here and he looks around. And sometimes he buys stuff and sometimes he doesn't. But he always has people with him," Annette said.
Now she thinks he was casing the place.
After "Chris" points to the tank, the man in the striped hoodie rolls up his sleeve and drops coral into a plastic bag.
Later, while the men distract the worker and the woman with the child acts as a lookout, he pulls out the bag and grabs more.
Caught on tape, with his hand in the tank, Annette says this story is to be continued.
"To teach people a lesson, he's going to be prosecuted. And I want reimbursement for that or he giving back my coral," Annette said.
The most expensive piece of coral stolen is hammer coral from Australia worth $150 dollars.
Now they just need your help identifying the people on the tape. If you know who any of these four people are, call city of Tonawanda police at 692-2121.
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