In news that will undoubtedly make you squirm (sorry), some entomophilic thieves raided the Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion, stealing $40,000 worth of insects and lizards, police say. The New York Times reports that authorities suspect the bug heist was an inside job — which makes sense, because the only people who could reasonably want to steal thousands of bugs probably already work with thousands of bugs.
On surveillance footage from last week, the scammers are shown creeping out of the museum with plastic containers holding all kinds of rare creepy crawlies, from giant African mantises to warty glowspot roaches. They stole an estimated total of 7,000 creatures, or about 80 to 90 percent of the insectarium’s collection — including a six-eyed sand spider, one of the most venomous in the world. In a seeming attempt to stick it to the man, the perpetrators also stabbed knives into the museum walls, on which they hung blue staff uniforms.
In a statement, the Philadelphia Police Department said three current or former employees are the suspects, though there have been no arrests yet. Police will search their homes, but they’re having a difficult time tracking down the insects, as the thieves also stole the logs used by the insectarium to keep track of the creatures. And also, they’re bugs.
“They are extremely easy to hide,” John Cambridge, the chief executive of the insectarium, told the Times. “We want to make sure that these creatures are treated with respect.” He added that he believes they were taken for the purpose of resale. The pavilion is now partially closed until November, and has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for renovations and the replacement of some insects.
While Cambridge is upset, noting that the thieves probably don’t recognize this could be considered a federal crime, he has a remarkably chill attitude about the whole thing. “They are young, and I really hope that this isn’t something that follows them for the rest of their life,” he said. “Everybody does dumb stuff when they’re young.”