News/Dudley Bug Stolen

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Graham Worton, Dudley Museum reports...

I am desperately sorry to have to attach pictures of two Calymene trilobites (Dudley Bugs) that were stolen from our displays this week by persons as yet unknown. They were beneath a laminated shatterproof (bullet proof) cover over the fossils on our illustrated timeline in the new geology gallery. This was Immediately beneath a security camera. We thought that this was sufficient to ensure there security but we appear to have overlooked the possibilty of a blindspot. Also as a result of the flexibilty of the cover materials it would appear that the cover itself was able to have been prized away from its plinth between the security fixing to a degree suffient to allow these specimens to be squeezed out from underneath. Needless to say this prompted a full review of all displays and security and an increase in the density of the security fixings and requests for additional camera coverage. This review also revealed that only these two specific fossils were taken.

I personally discovered the theft about 3pm on Tuesday in the quiet following a school visit, it is likely that the distraction of the very busy period before this played a part in the theft. We secured the timeline case, checked all other areas and made the necessary formal contacts with the police etc. We are currently reviewing our video footage and spreading the word to hopefully pick up the trade of the specimens should their sale or transfer be attempted.

If I could ask you all to have a look at these pictures and if useful circulate these images to anyone who may have contact with fossil collectors/ antique fairs/ other possible outlets and publicity that could help us to track down the specimens.

Dudleybug.jpg
Dudleybug2.jpg

Both fossils had identifying collection reference numbers (G 662 and G761) but I would expect that by now the numbers will have been removed. If any Dudley trilobites do come to your attention in the immediate future can you please let me know and we will take it from there.

While these specimens are not rare or particularly important in their own right and don't represent a great loss to the collection, it is the first time anything like this has happened here and in a situation in which we felt confident about the security. We were very able to furnish replacement specimens that could be immediately put on display, but the team here is absolutely gutted by the loss.

The fact that it is the classic 'Dudley bugs' that have been targetted in this instance makes me wonder if this was an opportunistic or an informed crime. It saddens me greatly to think that such a thing should happen in a free public museum aiming to serve and inspire those who have least and few opportunities to encounter this heritage elsewhere.

It's a bitter lesson that we have to go to even greater lengths to secure the good use of our heritage collections.

Graham Worton Bsc, FGS, C.Geol, MIEnvSci
Keeper of Geology and Museum Manager
Dudley Museum and Art Gallery
1 St James Road
Dudley
West Midlands. DY1 1HU
Tel: 01384 815574
Fax: 01384 815576
email: graham.worton@dudley.gov.uk

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