Two people charged in N.C. dinosaur hatchling heist


From surveillance video of the dino-heist. (North Carolina Department of Public Safety)

The case of the missing duck-billed dinosaur baby has apparently been solved.

Three days after a polymer resin replica of a young Edmonotosaurus was taken from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, two people turned themselves in to police, according to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety.

Logan Todd Ritchey, 21, of Raleigh, and Alyssa Ann Lavacca, 21, of Holly Springs were charged Thursday with two counts of theft or destruction of property from a museum — both of which are felony offenses under North Carolina law, the Department of Public Safety said in a release.

(North Carolina Museum of Natural History)
(North Carolina Museum of Natural History)

The Edmonotosaurus hatchling was taken on Monday, officials said. In surveillance video of the heist, which was circulated by police, a male and female are seen walking through a third-floor exhibition.

The male climbs over a short glass wall, takes the baby Edmonotosaurus cast from its natural habitat display, then climbs back over the wall and stuffs the dinosaur in the woman’s bag.

According to the Raleigh News & Observer, the custom-made, scientifically accurate resin model is worth $10,000, “based on the price the museum paid to have it produced … as its current building opened about 14 years ago.”

As the theft video spread in North Carolina, the dinosaur replica — about a foot long, police said — magically reappeared at the museum’s door: It was left in a bag after hours Wednesday, according to the state Department of Public Safety.

The next morning, Ritchey and Lavacca turned themselves in. They are also suspected of tampering with exhibits at a neighboring history museum before swiping the dinosaur.

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

Here is a video of the heist:

J. Freedom du Lac is the editor of The Post's general assignment news desk. He was previously a Local enterprise reporter and, before that, the paper’s pop music critic.
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