Friday 14 August 2009

Sometimes Humanity Sucks

The Natural History Museum isn't just the South Kensington site - its bird collection, for example, is housed north of London in Tring, Hertfordshire. Many of the non-British readers might have been unaware of this; unfortunately the thieves who broke into the collection on 24th June and stole several rare bird skins were not ignorant of this fact.

A statement from the Museum is online here. Professor Richard Lane, the Director of Science at the NHM, said:
"The birds that were stolen formed part of the nation's natural history collection, painstakingly assembled over the last 350 years. The 70 million specimens looked after by the Natural History Museum are a resource of international importance in the development of scientific knowledge. Our ornithological collections are amongst our most heavily used and are consulted by researchers throughout the world, who either visit Tring or request loans from us. The knowledge gleaned from these collections can help protect endangered species and answer questions about the biodiversity of the world around us."
In this technologically advanced age, Hertfordshire Police now have an official YouTube channel, and released this video:

I didn't know we had a National Wildlife Crime Unit, but I'm pleased they exist and are involved in the investigation. One thing is clear - this is not the sort of thing that opportunistic burglars steal. These bird skins haven't been nicked in order to fund a crack habit. To my mind (uneducated as it is in criminology) this is far more organised - stealing to order, for rich private collectors perhaps. If that is the case, then perhaps there will be more leads than one gets with the average house burglary (although as I discovered, not even the irrefutable DNA of the burglar left in our house could make up for the incompetence of Ealing Police - ask me about that sometime...). I'm sure we'll all be hoping to hear shortly that the birds have been found and the thieves caught.

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