One of three men suspected by Villa Rica officials in a case of stolen Koi fish from a city pond. The alleged theft happened Aug. 29. (Credit: Villa Rica City Manager David Milliron via Facebook)

$24K stolen Koi fish frustrate Georgia city, officials ask for help

Police had all but given up, but the Villa Rica city manager is asking the public for help identifying one of three men suspected of stealing thousands of dollars — in fish.

“I (Ofc. Collett) was dispatched to the city property of Pine Mountain Gold Museum on Stockmar Road in reference to the theft of fish,” the Aug. 30 police report starts.

Wesley Berninger, the manager of the Pine Mountain Gold Museum, told the officer that three men were seen on video acting suspicious and later fishing in the pond adjacent to the gem mining booth.

The manager told Collett he needed to file a report for theft and trespassing because he had a “No Fishing” sign near the property’s pond, which had 30 Koi fish that belonged to the city.

By the time the report was filed, Berninger could only find 22 of the fish, according to the report.

Three men, two of whom had fishing poles, were captured on surveillance video, Berninger told police.

They “were up to no good on the property,” Berninger said.

Two days later, Sgt. B. Finley called Berninger, who promised to send police the surveillance video and a photo.

Finley closed the case when the requested materials came in, on Sept. 6, writing, “The photo will not be of any value due to the fact that it does not show (the suspect’s) face.”

But that didn’t stop City Manager David Milliron from getting involved.

On Wednesday, Milliron posted to Facebook a call for help from the public.

Milliron explained to his Facebook followers that these Koi fish, valued at $3,000 each, “are reportedly direct descendants of four of the original fish purchased eight years ago when the park opened.”

The three men seen on video wore typical fishing gear: shirts, shorts and two had ball caps. They were seen driving a white SUV, possibly with a North Carolina license plate.

Milliron urged anyone with information to contact the Villa Rica Police Department at (678) 785-1100. Please refer to case 2016-08001460.

He didn’t mention the case is closed.

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