GLENDALE (CBSLA.com) — A North Hollywood man was caught on camera stealing pricey fish and live coral from a local pet store, authorities said.
Dean Inmon, the owner of Tropical Imports in Glendale, said his surveillance cameras captured a man who walked up to a store counter when an employee was occupied last month.
Inmon said that’s when the man suspected in the thefts walked to the back, looked around and then stopped at a saltwater tank.
“Made sure nobody was looking, stuck his hand in the aquarium and pulled the coral out, put it in his pocket,” he said.
Minutes later, the man in the surveillance video grabbed another live coral, leaving him with two Australian corals worth $140 in his pocket.
“Wiped off his hands like it was nothing,” Inmon said.
After discovering the coral was missing, Inmon knew something was wrong.
He began watching his video and realized the man was the same one who he believes stole a $100 fish from the shop a few months ago.
Glendale police also suspect the man in a similar theft at a Burbank store. The owner there was able to get his license plate number.
“I just couldn’t believe that he thought he could get away with it,” Inmon said.
Detectives arrested Luis Argueta, 29. Authorities said they found a fish tank in the man’s North Hollywood apartment.
Police said Argueta told them that the fish and coral died.
Investigators believe the man is behind other fish thefts in the area.
“He’s in a very expensive hobby, and he’s just above his means and he can’t afford them,” Inmon said.