quarta-feira, 10 de junho de 2015
Thieves Steal Massive Meteorite Worth $12,000 From Australian Museum
Crystal Caves museum owner believes the theft of 12kg Wolf Creek specimen was more about pursuing an object of desire than its monetary value.
A rare meteorite the size of a soccer ball has been stolen from a Queenslandmuseum whose owner suspects the work of an unscrupulous collector.
The 11.25kg space rock, worth more than $16,000, was stolen from the Crystal Caves museum in Atherton, north Queensland, early on Monday.
The museum’s owner, Ghislanie Gallo, said she believed the theft – which police suspected was carried out by two men in hooded jumpers with white masks – was less about the meteorite’s value than it being an object of desire among a narrow group of enthusiasts.
The meteorite was only recently donated to the museum, which is permitted to display it but not sell it.
The rare specimen was discovered in Wolf Creek in Western Australia in 1973, the year before the area was declared a national park and all meteorites subsequently found deemed property of the crown.
Gallo said she understood it was illegal to take Australian meteorites out of the country. Media attention generated by the theft also meant “it’s going to be pretty hard to shift”.
“There’s a big part of me that’s hoping whoever did is freaking out right now and is going to dump it at my back gate. That would be the ideal outcome,” she said.
CCTV footage of the suspected thieves obtained by police has fuelled Gallo’s suspicion that “whoever broke in was doing it for somebody else”.
“Somebody who really wanted it found a couple of hoodlums and said, ‘I’ll give you a couple of grand to break into Crystal Caves and steal this thing’,” she said. “They probably had no idea what it was and what it was worth to a collector.
“People that are into this stuff – it’s from outer space and people have all these metaphysical ideas about properties of things from outer space.
“Who knows, maybe it was a nutter with enough cash to pay somebody to go and steal it from them?”
Gallo said she had been approached by a collector at her Cairns shop several months ago wanting to buy a smaller Wolf Creek meteorite she had.
“I said, I’m not selling it to you, it’s not for sale,” she said.
“Then we got this much bigger meteorite donated to us and we did get a bit of TV publicity from that. You start thinking about people like that and you go, maybe it’s a case of ‘you won’t sell me one, I’ll just help myself’. I don’t know.”
Atherton police senior sergeant Richard Trotter said he understood the value of the meteorite was not widely known in the town before the robbery.
“Would you know what a meteorite is worth? Because I certainly didn’t,” Trotter said.
“It’s an unusual thing for somebody to go to that much trouble to steal. And it would stand out certainly if somebody put it up on eBay, wouldn’t it? I can’t imagine it being that easy to move on for any sort of profit. It’s a very strange thing to see, to be honest.”
Trotter said no information from the public had yet been forthcoming. He renewed an appeal to hear from anyone “who might know the faces on the camera or have heard something or seen something or been offered a piece of the meteorite”.
Astronomy expert David Reneke, from Australasian Science magazine, told the ABC the meteorite could be broken up into smaller pieces and sold on the black market.
“These things are valuable for a lot of reasons, not only because of the mineralogy but because of what they represent,” he said.
“These bits of rock are usually between 4.5bn and 5bn years old. They come from a place between Mars and Jupiter and if you ever wanted a pristine part of a planet like Earth, this is where you go.”
Gallo said she believed there was “no way” a thief who had any appreciation of meteorites would break it up for sale.
“I don’t think it’s about the value. I think a collector wanted it,” she said.
“Why would you bust up a perfect specimen into little pieces? That would break my heart if that happened. That’s like breaking up the Mona Lisa and selling it in bits.”
Publicado por Jorge M. Gonçalves às 11:33 da tarde