Northern Ireland

Japanese koi carp stolen in Omagh

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Media captionBBC Newsline's district reporter Julian Fowler has been speaking to their owner

Thieves have netted themselves a fortune of fish after raiding a pond at a home in Omagh.

Susan Anderson returned home from holiday to discover her seven Japanese koi carp had been stolen.

"I had been away for the week in Spain and I left my husband to look after the fish which he had been doing every day, and then when he went out to check on them they had disappeared, they had been stolen," she said.

The pond is covered by heavy metal grids for security and safety which Susan said would take two or more people to lift and catch the fish which have been known to live up to 50 years.

"I have lost seven koi fish. These fish would have been at least two and a half feet long," she said.

"I've had some of them for almost 20 years so in a sense for price they would be priceless, they are more sentimental value."

For Susan there is also a large financial loss as some of the bigger fish are worth £3,000 or more.

Koi Ireland, a society for keepers, has told Susan that thefts like this are unusual in Northern Ireland but pond robberies have become common in England.

It is an expensive hobby, but it is one that is becoming more popular and Susan believes the koi were stolen to order to be sold in the Republic of Ireland rather than ending up as a fish supper.

"The carp would be quite bony and because of the age of the carp they would certainly be very tasteless and they would be desperate to eat them," she said.

It's not the first time Susan has lost fish, but she said the previous culprits were definitely not responsible this time around.

Image caption A metal grid had been pulled back from the pond

"Last year we did have mink and they did destroy half of the pond and certainly unless they were super mink to lift the grids - no," she said.

Susan has discovered that her home insurance policy does not extend to the contents of her pond and the fish require specialist cover.

"As far as the fish were concerned the insurance company described them as livestock and they do not cover it," she said

This may have been an easy catch for the thieves but other koi carp owners are being warned to keep a close watch on their ponds and check their insurance policies.