Teenage vandals cause major damage, attempt to poison koi fish at Salt Lake Cactus & Tropicals

Posted at 9:37 PM, Aug 14, 2022

MILLCREEK, Utah — A group of vandals scaled the fence of a local plant and garden store's outdoor section three nights in a row last week, escalating the amount of damage and destruction each time.

General manager Kathy Harbin said employees at the Cactus & Tropicals location in Millcreek arrived Thursday morning to find some vandalism. They reported it to the police but didn't think much of it.

The next day, however, security cameras showed that the same suspects — who appeared to be teenagers — broke in again and caused more damage. This time, that included leaving hoses on all night, which flooded the office.

It happened again Friday night, but this time the employees arrived the following morning to find "horrific damage," Harbin said. Large ceramic containers were shattered, and the koi pond was full of garbage, large (and expensive) plants, and even chemicals.

"The pond was so full of toxic materials that you could just smell it," Harbin said. "Big bags of fertilizer and gravel and all kinds of things — ant poison."

Harbin said the workers immediately got the koi fish out of the pond because the chemicals could have killed them. They were later put back in.

"Several of these fish have been in this pond for 20 or 25 years," she added. "We feed these fish by hand in the morning. They come up and take food right out of your hand."

Fortunately, the store's security cameras captured footage of the suspects. Managers then posted screenshots of them on social media, and within hours, they learned the names of all the suspects. The information was then sent to the police.

A disturbing realization that came from the surveillance footage, Harbin said, was that the teens had also tried to stab the fish in the pond, tried to catch them with their hands, and chased a cat around the property.

Harbin said the store's greenhouse was secure, so the plants inside it were kept safe from any damage.