Community outrage as beloved 15-year-old goldfish snatched from Aussie home

Neighbours say the apparent loss of Fred the goldfish is like losing 'a person' as the owners are left stumped by the 'bizarre' suspected theft.

A local community is reeling after a beloved 15-year-old goldfish was snatched from its home in an affluent inner-city suburb, where it has spent more than a decade entertaining children, the elderly and passersby.

Fred the goldfish lived happily in a pond outside the front of the home of Michael Burke and Sheena Brenn in South Yarra in Melbourne for more than a decade before an alleged thief brought that to an end, leaving behind a burnt-out cooking pot as the only piece of evidence.

The little fish — affectionately dubbed the "people's goldfish" by Burke — was taken on Saturday, April 6, and since then, community outrage has steadily been mounting. Flyers have been posted around the area urging the culprit to return Fred, though his owners doubt that he survived being transported given his age.

A missing poster showing Fred the goldfish, who was stolen from a South Yarra home in Melbourne.
Fred the goldfish has been stolen from his South Yarra home in Melbourne, where his owners said he was beloved by the community. Source: 7News

Fred the goldfish living happily, 'uninterrupted' for 15 years

"He’s been uninterrupted in that pond for more than 15 years," Burke told The Herald Sun. "Considering his age, it’s highly unlikely he’d survive for long outside his usual environment."

"The children are very upset. Some of the elderly people in the community come past and visit him everyday. He’s really the people’s fish."

Adding to the Melbourne couple's concern is the fact the pond where Fred lived was well into their property, right next to the front door, meaning somebody trespassed. "The pond is just an arm’s length from our front door," Burke told the publication.

A split image showing the burnt out pot used to capture Fred, and an image of the goldfish.
The 15-year-old goldfish was known in the area by children and local residents. Source: The Herald Sun

Owners implore thieves to return beloved 'people's goldfish'

It's unclear what's behind the unusual theft, but the owners just want Fred back.

"We could have put a gate or a door across the pond but we purposefully left it open so people could look in on Fred," he said. Burke branded the ordeal a "disappointment" and said that he believes the fish was taken by a person, not an animal, due to the pot being left behind.

"It's just a bit peculiar to be honest," Burke told 7News. "I mean who would take a goldfish?"

In some small comfort, he said the community support in search for Fred was "lovely" to see.

One neighbour, Sandra Austin, said Fred was "a character that's in our neighbourhood".

"It's like a person," she told 7News. "I was going to get some flowers today and drop them there in memory of Fred."

The owners said they weren't going to say anything about his disappearance but the couple ultimately posted about it on Facebook where it was shared some 150 times.

Yahoo News Australia has contacted Victoria Police for comment.

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