By Marti Maguire
RALEIGH N.C. (Reuters) - North Carolina police said on Wednesday they were looking for a man and woman caught on video pilfering a duck-billed dinosaur replica valued at $10,000 from a state science museum.
The pair, believed to be in their 20s, committed a felony on Monday when they took the roughly foot-long model of a baby Edmontosaurus from the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, state police said.
Security footage captured the man jumping over the low barrier of an exhibit to take the dinosaur, then appearing to give his female accomplice a peck on the cheek as they fumbled to fit the dinosaur in her multi-colored bag.
Authorities suspect the dinosaur theft is related to a similar theft from the nearby N.C. Museum of History. A police spokesman said divulging what was stolen in the prior heist might harm the investigation, but noted that item was valued at less than $1,000.
The replica swiped from the science museum, which is known for its dinosaur collection, was one of two hatchlings set in a nest among bits of shell and other eggs. Museum security officers noticed the empty nest on a routine patrol Tuesday morning, museum spokesman Jonathan Pishney said.
The scientifically accurate model was custom-made of museum quality polymer resin for the exhibit, which opened in 2000 and depicts prehistoric life in North Carolina.
“It’s not a toy,” Pishney said.
Terry “Bucky” Gates, a paleontologist with the museum, said the exhibit was designed to be open to provide visitors with a more intimate experience.
“But this kind of incident makes us wary of having specimens so close to the public," Gates said.
(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Eric Walsh)