Stolen rhino horn valued at $200K recovered

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Stolen rhino horn valued at $200K recovered

Tue, 03/13/2018 - 3:55pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Over the past eleven months UVM Police has collaborated with several law enforcement partners to investigate the theft of a valuable rhinoceros horn that had significant historic importance to the University. The horn was reported stolen on 4/27/2017 from UVM’s Torrey Hall/UVM’s Department of Wildlife Biology and was estimated to be valued in excess of $200,000.

Bill Kilpatrick holds the famous rhino horn. UVM photo.

The UVM Police investigation did not initially result in specific suspect leads. Due to the historic importance of the rhinoceros horn to the University of Vermont, at this time the priority of the investigation was to recover the property. UVM Police issued a press release along with a reward offered jointly by the University of Vermont and the US Fish and Wildlife service in hopes of recovering the property.

The press release resulted in a tip to UVM Police that led to an out of state suspect. Eventually, it was determined through investigation that the suspect lived in Ridgefield, CT. The tip and investigation did not provide enough information to establish probable cause to search the suspect’s property, but did provide investigators with a lead.

Investigators in Vermont and Connecticut worked with prosecutors in both states to determine the best strategies to solve this case and successfully get the stolen property returned to the University of Vermont. The Chittenden County State’s Attorney’s Office and UVM Police decided that it was appropriate for Ridgefield, CT Police to offer the suspect immunity to criminal prosecution in exchange for the safe return of the property. It was determined that without such an offer the return of the property would be unlikely.

On March 06, 2018, the Ridgefield CT Police Department, working from information given to them by UVM Police, were able to successfully recover the rhinoceros horn. The horn is currently in the possession of Ridgefield PD and will soon be transferred back to UVM Police.

This case remains open pending further information. There remains a possibility that this case could result in criminal charges against individuals other than the suspect who was granted immunity.

The University of Vermont Police Department would like to thank the following agencies for their cooperation and assistance with this case:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ridgefield CT Police Department, New York State Police (Brewster, NY) U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (Burlington), and the Chittenden County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Any rewards offered in this case are being worked out with the initial tipster.

Case Officer: Officer Matt Collins. RE: CASE # 17UV003241.

Source: UVM 3.13.2018