The police have taken the unprecedented step of putting over 100 of the nation’s fisheries on red alert this week after it emerged gangs of organised fish thieves are stealing specimen carp ‘to order’.
Some of the most popular commercial waters and syndicate carp venues in the South have been contacted by Kent police after a handful of fisheries supplied ‘solid evidence’ that their sites were being targeted by thieves.
Sightings of ‘suspicious vehicles’ containing bolt croppers, nets and fishing equipment at lakes in Kent and Essex, together with evidence of perimeter fences being cut, are just some of the incidents under investigation by the police and the Environment Agency.
Although Eastern Europeans have repeatedly been linked with fish theft in the UK, all the evidence and reports in these cases point the finger of blame at organised gangs of Britons intent on supplying unscrupulous fishery owners with cut-price specimen fish.
“This is the first time that organised fish theft has become a problem on this scale and the force has received enough evidence for us to mount investigations and warn fisheries,” said Tim Moody, West Kent wildlife and conservation officer.
“There are an increasing number of fisheries that are cutting corners and buying carp from gangs that are stealing them ¬ it’s big business.” Many fisheries in Kent and Essex have already begun to step up their security, but Kent police and the EA are advising fisheries across the UK to be vigilant and they have vowed that any reports of theft will be dealt with immediately.
Mid Kent Fisheries controls some of the most popular and productive specimen fisheries in the UK, including Conningbrook Reservoir, home of the current British record, and owner Chris Logsdon is more than aware of the threat. He believes those waters that drop their guard will provide easy pickings.
“I’ve been in this game for a long time and I know that these gangs are very good at what they do. If a fishery owner doesn’t know exactly what to look for, they can be in and out with your most precious fish and you’d never even know it,” said Chris.
“I know that there are plenty of unscrupulous fishery owners who will buy stolen fish, so it’s vital the sport unites to fight this despicable trade,” he added.