One or more burglars ransacked a tropical fish store just west of downtown Akron early this morning, stealing hundreds of tropical fish, smashing some 80 fish tanks and throwing the store parrot into a display pond.
''This is absolutely inconceivable, absolutely inconceivable,'' said owner Steve Mills, as he stood outside Aquatic Interiors Seacave, shaking his head while he spoke with police detectives.
When Mills arrived at the West Exchange Street store about 6:30 a.m., fish were still flopping on the floor amid shards of glass.
Mills saw the parrot's cage in the pond and thought the 21-year-old yellow nape Amazon parrot, Pat, had drowned in the pond.
Mills soon found the wet, clearly terrified bird nearby.
''He's bruised on one side,'' said Mills' wife, Amy.
Steve Mills estimates the damage to the store and value of the stolen fish at $35,000 — at least.
''They took all expensive saltwater fish,'' Amy Mills said, her voice cracking. ''And after they took all the saltwater fish they busted everything up.
Gesturing toward a small oval-shaped smashed tank, Amy Mills said, ''They even took poisonous lionfish.''
Her husband pointed toward a large piece of cream-colored coral, which now has a gash in it.
''I can't replace this,'' Steve Mills said. '''This is the second largest piece ever brought into the country in 35 years by the wholesaler.''
Mills, 49, and friends had worked hard, turning the store into a tropical rain forest.
He and Amy had been busy planning a celebration to mark the store's first anniversary — April 1 — in its new location at 364 W. Exchange St..
''Now, there is nothing to celebrate,'' said Amy Mills.
Until last year, the 26-year-old business had been in a building he rented on East Exchange Street. Mills moved because the University of Akron acquired the property.
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