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Koi, swimming jewels (1)

There was a news carried by the Washington Post last June 2013 about a great Koi heist at a business park in the Herndon, Virginia, USA. The two neatly dressed men in khakis and white shirts showed up at the park handing out a business card and said that they were with an aquatic care company and had come to remove sick koi from the pond. Floro MerceneThey spoke knowledgeably about koi carp and worked diligently, using large nets over four days to haul in the brightly colored fish.

The criminals’ ruse was so well-orchestrated that no one realized 400 koi had been carefully packed in large coolers and stolen until after the men were gone and security mentioned the crew to the property management company. An even greater shock: The fish might be worth tens of thousands of dollars. A conservative estimate for the value of the 400 stolen fish is near $20,000, but they could have been worth far more if many of them were large. A koi of 18 inches (46cm) can fetch $2,000. There have been other thefts across the nation, the news said. In May, eight koi worth about $1,600 were stolen from a pond at the University of Wisconsin campus. In January, nine koi were stolen from a Florida woman, and in 2010, 24 koi were swiped from a family’s pond in, New York, the news reported.

The word koi comes from Japanese, simply meaning “carp”, which includes both the dull grey fish in the wild and the brightly colored ornamental varieties, nishikigoi. What are known as koi in English are referred to more specifically as nishikigoi in Japan (literally meaning “brocaded carp”), sometimes referred to as “swimming jewels.” There are koi collectors who pay as much as $25,000 for a championship nishikigoi.

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