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Baby dinosaur replica returned to NC museum

Posted at 1:24 PM, Jul 18, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-18 13:24:29-04

A wide-eyed, open-mouthed model of a dinosaur hatchling, the theft of which apparently was captured by surveillance cameras, is safely back in its nest at a North Carolina museum exhibit.

Police said the statue was inside a bag left Wednesday night near a rear service entrance at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh.

Museum officials estimated the value of the 12- to 14-inch-long model at $10,000.

Logan Todd Ritchey, 21, and Alyssa Ann Lavacca, 21, turned themselves in Thursday morning, according to the North Carolina State Capitol Police. They have been charged with two felony counts of theft or destruction of property of museums.

In surveillance images taken Monday, a male in striped shorts is seen climbing over a low glass barrier into a museum exhibit and bending down. He then hops back out over the barrier and puts something in a large, multicolored purse carried by a female accomplice. Security guards discovered the replica was missing the next day.

Police also suspect the pair in a similarly odd theft of items at the North Carolina Museum of History. Inventory missing from that museum included a prop cabbage head, a prop corn cob and prop doilies, along with a real medicine bottle, said Jackson Marshall, associate director of the history museum.

They were later found at the sciences museum, Marshall said.

Police said the suspects have been cooperative in the investigation.

“I doubt these two individuals realized the seriousness of tampering with artifacts and exhibits in a public museum,” said State Capitol Police Chief Glen Allen.