WEST PALM BEACH, FL. (WSVN) — Four teenagers are facing serious charges after authorities say they broke into a research facility in West Palm Beach.
Surveillance video captured the four suspects as they broke into the Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center near Port St. Lucie on August 5.
“Anyone with half a brain knows you don’t climb a fence in the Oceanographic Center and go fishing,” Marion County Sheriff William Snyder said.
The perpetrators, two of whom were identified as Giovanni Del Greco, 18, Matteo Dal Vecchio, 18, jumped over a fence with a 17-year-old and a 16-year-old in order to reach the lagoon.
Snyder said the burglary happened when the center was closed.
Investigators said the teens stole a snapper and killed a tarpon.
“People catch tarpon all the time; it is a game fish. They jump off a ladder and then release the fish gently,” Snyder said, “and in this case they grabbed the tarpon, ripped the hook off so forcefully that it took part of the inside of the fish, then they just left there to die.
Del Greco and Dal Vecchio were arrested. The four teenagers have been charged with burglary.
Deputies said they believed they were fishing somewhere before entering the centre.
“There is no connection between them and the center. There’s no legitimate reason they did what they did,” Snyder said. “In reality, it was just pure nastiness.”
Officials from the Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center released a statement that reads in part: “They weren’t just animals – they were longtime members of our family who taught our community about wild sea creatures and how to protect. The animals that were killed had lived with us since they were young; it was their home.
Investigators said this has been a troubling trend at the center. In 2015, a suspect broke in and injured a nurse shark. Five years later, someone walked in and injured a stingray, and another suspect stole a margate fish.
“It seems to us, although we can’t get into their head, but they intended to kill this tarpon,” Snyder said.
Bail for the two 18-year-old suspects has been set at $175,000 each.
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