High-priced fish heist: Thieves steal more than 40 Koi from cafe

WENATCHEE, Wash. -- Wenatchee Police are investigating the theft of more than 40 high-priced fish from a pond outside a local restaurant, authorities said Wednesday.

Someone stole the exotic Koi from the Cellar Cafe, 249 N. Mission St., on July 31, said Sergeant Jim West. Five were recovered Monday but the rest remain missing.

"Two weeks ago, things really got fishy. I came out to clean the filters and realized, 'Why is there a golf club with a fishing net on it?'" said Chris Honeysett, the cafe's owner. "To me, it really was someone coming and taking my kids."

Honeysett has owned the cafe since 1993. She introduced six Koi to a pond in front of the restaurant three years later, she said. The number has multiplied over the years to more than 50 fish.

There have been a few fish that have disappeared in the past due to animals and predators in the area, she said, but she knew this had to be an intentional act after finding a fish net attached to a golf club, along with a giant plastic tub.

"Last Friday was the most traumatizing day," she added. "I realized all my precious fish were gone. There were very few fish left in the pond."

Acting on a tip, investigators recovered five of the fish on Monday, West added. A resident in the 1200 block of Tedford St. SE noticed neighbors digging a very basic pond and called police.

Honeysett - who built the pond so that customers and staff could have a place to relax and de-stress - said she was happy to have some of the fish back. The restaurant has purchased a surveillance system and continues to troll Craigslist to try to find the remaining Koi.

"We did celebrate yesterday," she said. "$5 sandwiches for the return of five fish. Looking forward to getting some more back."