UK/Ipswich: Rhino horn thieves foiled by crafty museum workers

UK/Ipswich: Rhino horn thieves staging a museum break-in were foiled by staff who had replaced the �240,000 rare specimens with replicas.

The models were put in place three months ago following a string of similar raids across Britain and Europe - including one last month in Ipswich.

But while real horn is worth around �50,000 a kilo, the fakes stolen from the Natural History Museum at Tring, in Hertfordshire, have no financial value.

Museum staff believe they were targeted by the same gang that has preyed on auction rooms, galleries and private collections in recent months.

Paul Kitching, manager of the Natural History Museum at Tring, said: “We’re deeply saddened by this pointless theft.

“The rhinoceros horns that have been stolen were replicas made out of resin, so they have no commercial value.

“We’re now working with the police and urge anyone with any pertinent information to get in touch.

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“We are working today to clear up the museum so that we can reopen as usual tomorrow.”

The two stolen replicas were taken from an Indian and a white rhino. Both weigh around 2kg.

Nothing else was taken during the break-in which comes just a week after Britain secured international agreement to clamp down on the illegal rhino horn trade.

The horn itself has now become so sought after it is worth more than diamonds, gold, heroin and cocaine.

UK officials have warned that its sale is being driven in part by a belief that it can cure cancer or reverse the effects of stroke.

In Asia, it is often powdered and used for medicinal purposes.

Police in Ipswich are continuing to investigate after a gang of thieves broke into Ipswich Museum and stole the horn from the iconic exhibit Rosie the Rhino.