Fish thief unmasked in £10,000 crime mystery

Anne Newiss next to her fish pond which has been covered to protect their new fish after an Otter ha

Anne Newiss next to her fish pond which has been covered to protect their new fish after an Otter has eaten thousands of pounds worth of fish.Picture: James Bass - Credit: James Bass

When valuable fish began disappearing from the back garden pond of John and Anne Newiss, they took some elaborate measures to catch the culprit.

An Otter hunts in the River Little Ouse in Thetford. Photograph Simon Parker

An Otter hunts in the River Little Ouse in Thetford. Photograph Simon Parker - Credit: Archant

A laser alarm system, connected to a buzzer in their bedroom was set up to alert them to any intruders. And when it went off, the offender was finally caught in the act, on their patio, in the glare of their security lights: an otter.

By then, its four month crime wave had resulted in the theft of more than £10,000 worth of fish from the couple's pond. The creature fled from the garden, in Hopton, near Great Yarmouth, but has since been thwarted by a 3ft high 'cage' that has been installed around the 20ft x 30ft water feature.

The couple, who live in Potters Drive, have kept fish for many years, having moved their collection to Hopton with them when they moved to the area 16 years ago.

The recent raids have seen them lose more than 50 koi, one of which Mrs Newiss had for more than 32 years.


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'It all started in June,' said Mrs Newiss, 68. 'I looked at the pond in the morning and I thought 'something isn't right here', because it had been disturbed.

'I didn't know if it was a heron or something else, but when I saw one of our fish, Big Bertha as we called her, it just reduced me to tears.

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'She had been dragged to a pond shelf, had the guts pulled out of her just under the gills, and she'd been left to die.'

Mrs Newiss was devastated to find that on following nights more fish were dragged from her pond.

She said: 'Bertha was my friend and would eat out of my hand.

'She was special, but losing the others was just as bad. Most of them were over 3ft long.'

She added: 'We were up all night. But finally we saw the culprit on our patio, and it was an otter.'

The nearest body of water to the village, Lound Lakes, is the closest natural habitat of otters. Although this is about two miles away, wildlife experts believe it means the village is within easy range of the creatures.

Penny Hemphill, water for wildlife advisor at Suffolk Wildlife Trust, said: 'It wouldn't be that unusual for an otter to find its way using streams and ditches to get to somewhere where its smelt food.

'They have a territory of up to 40 miles, which they'll patrol over about seven days, so its not unlikely for them to stray a little'

Do you have a wildlife story? email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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