Thursday, May 31, 2007

Rare Books (and a Turtle) Recovered

What do a preserved hawksbill sea turtle, some antique surveying equipment, and a 1754 book on Spanish history have in common?

They were all discovered at the home of an ex-employee of the San Diego Natural History Museum, the AP reported late last week. Police found the items at the residence of Ruben Lopez, 23, "who worked as a cleaner at the museum in May 2004." With other rare books and pieces from the museum's collections, the thefts are valued at around $15,000, according to the museum. The items were known to be missing but staff were reportedly unsure about whether they'd been stolen or simply misplaced.

The hawksbill sea turtle specimen was in rough shape: "
There's a lot of damage - the bill is broken, the legs are dangling. It looks like someone had a tug of war with it," said a museum spokesperson.

Meth was also discovered in the house, and Lopez has been charged with "
grand theft, possession of narcotics for sale and embezzlement." The recovered items were returned to the museum last Friday. It's not clear from the AP article whether police were investigating Lopez for the museum thefts or for other reasons.