Koi get stolen. A lot more frequently than you’d think. There is rarely a week that goes by without a story in a local newspaper that doesn’t have some mention of a koi heist. Koi theft, and its regularity should concern you as a koi owner.
Losing a koi can be a traumatic event and one that is keenly felt. There is a lot of love and effort that goes into raising a koi.
The emotional loss of koi aside, the disappearance of a koi can also represent a large financial hit, too. Some koi, especially show-quality koi, can be worth many thousands of dollars. This is something that is not lost on thieves.
It’s Not That Tough
You may have had difficulty netting your own koi, so you might think it’s hard to steal a koi. But it can be quite simple—especially if there is more than one person involved and the koi are larger. Larger koi (which are generally more valuable) tend to move more slowly and are accustomed to seeing humans.
Some thieves are incredibly brazen in stealing koi. In one instance in Wales, a thief stole koi by stuffing them into his pocket in a supply store. In another instance, two men posing as maintenance workers heisted an obscene number of fish in full view of passers-by!
But How Do Koi Thieves Know?
Sadly, it can be someone that you know that is the culprit. You may have had some work done to your home or property and had your koi cased then. Your koi might even have gotten earmarked during a show. There are some other surprising ways that your koi are targeted.
Koi in Space
It has been noted that some thieves will take to the internet and use satellite images from Google Earth to identify ponds (especially larger ones), and then target those ponds for their attention.
Whatever the reason or circumstance that led to the theft, it is still devastating for a koi owner. Both the invasion of privacy and the loss of a pet is never a good feeling.
So what can you do to stop this from happening?
Lock and Key
Having a wall (or fence) and lockable gates is the first line of defense if you do have concerns about your Living Jewel. Sadly, however, this is more of a visual deterrent than a guaranteed method of keeping your koi safe.
Keep It Clean
In much the same way as your local law enforcement warns against leaving your gift boxes on the curb after the holidays, you should not leave any evidence of your pond or koi additions where they are visible. Make sure whatever you use to dispose of the container keeps it from plain sight.
Get Socially Savvy
As sad as this sounds, your social media and forum posts can make your koi a target, too. You should be proud of your koi, and want to share pictures or videos of them, but be aware that there are some that can use your pictures as a shopping guide.
Many groups on FaceBook are closed. However, it is always advisable to monitor your privacy settings so that your location is not advertised, or so that when you are tagged in a post it is set up as to who can see the tag or to whom it is served.
The same goes for forums or any other venues on the internet where there might be people with motives other than to enjoy the beauty of your koi. Be proud, but beware, too.
Take photos of your koi at the beginning of every season as a precaution. As your koi’s color and size change, it is good to keep an updated pic of all of them year-on-year as a form of proof of life anyway. It will help others to help identify your koi if they do show up “for sale” on the internet or in a local pet store.
Although more commonly used on larger family pets, embedding a microchip into your more valuable koi is an option. It is not one that is often employed by koi owners, but it is a viable and fairly inexpensive method of tagging your koi should they go missing.
Your information and proof of ownership are stored in the tiny chip so that if it is recovered there is no question about who’s koi it is. Its usefulness is debated by koi owners, but it is another layer of security, regardless.
Smile! You’re on Camera
More than a few wary koi keepers will install cameras to monitor their ponds for untoward activity. CCTV setups are nowhere near as expensive or intricate as they used to be. Cameras have gotten smaller and footage is more easily stored.
Many of the newer cameras will push images directly to mobile phones. This option can be good to keep an eye on your pond and monitor both man and beasts’ activity. The Arlo system is a popular choice among koi keepers.
Motion-Activated Security Flood Lights
When used and placed effectively, the higher-wattage lights can help at least to give the thief pause. But as this article suggests, it is not necessarily going to have the desired effect.
It is important to remember that this, like many of the other options, is not necessarily a deterrent. But used in conjunction with other safeguards, it can thwart theft simply by making it successively harder for the thief to get what he wants.
These are all viable means of taking precautions against your koi getting stolen. Sadly, however, it can still happen. And even more frustrating, the likelihood of finding them or having them returned is slim—although not unheard of!
If your koi do get stolen, there are some methods of locating your stolen koi.
Monitor social media pages
In much the same way that your koi can be targeted on social media, you can use the same platforms to see if your koi have been put up for sale. Keep an eye on FB marketplace and koi forums.
Online Sales Platforms
If you have had a koi stolen and you are a keen sleuth, you will have to tap into a lot of the online sales platforms. Keep an eye on these sites:
- offer up
Koi and Fish Rescue Sites
Finding your koi at a rescue facility after someone has gone through all the trouble of stealing your fish is rare. However, it can’t hurt to share photos of your missing koi with them—just in case!
Contact Your Local Koi Clubs
There are numerous groups across the country that have nothing but the best interests of other koi keepers and their koi at heart. They can be a fierce and dogged force for recovering your koi.
The Associated Koi Clubs of America has a list of the Koi Clubs on their website. Send out requests for them to keep their eyes peeled. Share the photos you have of your koi so they know what to look for.
Get Online Koi Group Help
Koi keepers tend to be a pretty tight group of hobbyists that will band together in instances like this.
They might not always agree on the HOW of koi keeping, but they will fiercely defend their (and other koi keepers’) koi.
Ask them to keep an eye out on any groups they may be in. This has the added advantage of more eyes across the country should the thief look to offload the koi in other cities or states.
Local Pet Stores
Remember those photos? Share them with your local pet stores that might carry koi. Stop into those stores and see if they might be there, or have already been sold.
The loss of a koi can be tough to handle, and especially when someone has entered your homestead and taken them from you. We hope that this information proves helpful in at least preparing for this worst-case scenario with some useful prevention suggestions.
If you have suggestions or are currently using means to keep your koi safe and sound, please share them with us!