Someone stole thousands of live spiders, scorpions and other exotic insects from a Philadelphia museum

The long list of stolen items sounds like an arachnophobe's nightmare.Rhinocerous roaches. Six-eyed s...

Posted: Sep 6, 2018 10:07 AM
Updated: Sep 6, 2018 10:07 AM

The long list of stolen items sounds like an arachnophobe's nightmare.

Rhinocerous roaches. Six-eyed sand spiders. Red spot assassin bugs. Zebra tarantulas. Desert hairy scorpions.

Animals

Continents and regions

Destinations and attractions

Insects and arachnids

Life forms

Museums and galleries

North America

Northeastern United States

Pennsylvania

Philadelphia

Points of interest

The Americas

United States

Crime, law enforcement and corrections

Criminal offenses

Larceny and theft

Property crimes

These rare insects are among 80 species of live crawly critters stolen from the Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion last month in a bizarre and brazen crime that has produced plenty of suspects but no arrests.

The thieves cleaned out more than 80% of the museum's collection -- some 7,000 individual creatures, including whole colonies of roaches and other bugs -- a haul valued at $40,000.

"I'm not sure there's ever been a larger live-insect heist," said John Cambridge, the museum's owner, in an interview Wednesday. "Our insurance doesn't cover this. Why would they? This is unprecedented."

Among the stolen creatures are rare mantises, millepedes, lizards, frogs and snakes. One, the six-eyed sand spider, has a venomous bite that can be life-threatening. Some are endangered species, Cambridge said.

To make matters worse, the theft appears to have been an inside job. Cambridge told CNN that security cameras show a handful of employees carrying boxes of insects from the building over several days beginning on August 21.

"We know exactly who did this. They snuck out the back with all these boxes. We caught them on camera," he said. "They took all the stuff and then they didn't show up for their shifts."

Several of the thieves left a calling card, however: Their blue staff uniforms, stuck to a wall with a pair of knives.

About a dozen of the insects were recovered from the home of a suspect, but the others remain missing, Cambridge said.

Philadelphia police are investigating, but no arrests have been made. A police spokesman told CNN their investigation is ongoing.

So why would someone steal thousands of rare insects?

"They are very easy to sell. The enthusiast market is quite strong -- exotic pet shows and that kind of thing," Cambridge said. "There's no way they took these to be part of their personal collection."

The thefts have forced the Insectarium, which just opened last year, to close its second and third floors as it attempts to rebuild its collection. Cambridge has launched a GoFundMe to help fund acquisitions of new animals.

But there's a silver lining: Since news of the heist spread, the museum has been getting donations of live insects from collectors and institutions around the country.

It plans to reopen fully by November 3, when the museum hosts an Oddities Expo.

West Lafayette
Clear
76° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 76°
Kokomo
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 75°
Rensselaer
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 75°
Fowler
Clear
76° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 76°
Williamsport
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 79°
Crawfordsville
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 73°
Frankfort
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 73°
Delphi
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 73°
Monticello
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 73°
Logansport
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 73°
Warming up with plenty of sunshine!
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 947918

Reported Deaths: 15377
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1291181990
Lake635721103
Allen53899761
Hamilton44082449
St. Joseph42122590
Elkhart33803491
Vanderburgh30574449
Tippecanoe26915251
Johnson23727418
Hendricks22410342
Porter21832347
Clark17562231
Madison17492385
Vigo16302285
Monroe14545191
LaPorte14389239
Delaware14183222
Howard13971273
Kosciusko11498135
Hancock10935166
Warrick10737178
Bartholomew10635170
Floyd10514208
Wayne10077226
Grant9213204
Morgan8928160
Boone8463111
Dubois7791123
Dearborn769490
Henry7691133
Noble7466101
Marshall7409128
Cass7219118
Lawrence7026153
Shelby6647111
Jackson661386
Gibson6190107
Harrison609386
Huntington604495
Montgomery5853105
DeKalb581091
Knox5535104
Miami548888
Putnam543268
Clinton537465
Whitley529354
Steuben501768
Wabash488692
Jasper483861
Jefferson474492
Ripley457777
Adams446068
Daviess4231108
Scott409165
Clay394957
White393858
Greene393392
Wells389884
Decatur388797
Fayette378578
Posey362341
Jennings356056
Washington334747
LaGrange325175
Spencer321136
Fountain318455
Randolph317190
Sullivan309449
Owen287064
Starke282864
Fulton280454
Orange277859
Jay257038
Perry254152
Carroll245229
Franklin242838
Rush237030
Vermillion235050
Parke221420
Tipton212055
Pike211740
Blackford170534
Pulaski168551
Crawford147318
Newton145845
Benton143916
Brown135846
Martin130217
Switzerland126910
Warren115616
Union98511
Ohio80511
Unassigned0482

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events