Books et al.Museum Science

Irreplaceable avian specimens, ransacked

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Science  04 May 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6388, pp. 500
DOI: 10.1126/science.aas9050

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On 23 June 2009, after closing time, Edwin Rist broke a pane of glass at the back of the Natural History Museum at Tring, in Hertfordshire, U.K., and lowered himself into the quiet, darkened building. Within a few hours, he had hauled armfuls of bird skins—some of which had been collected more than a century earlier—from drawers and stowed them in a cavernous suitcase on wheels. Rist walked through the darkness to the train station, caught the 3:54 a.m. train to London, and disappeared. The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson is a true and carefully researched account of Rist's incredible theft and what came afterward.