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Rhino Mafia Stole Plaster Copies

Daft thieves who broke into a museum to saw the horn off a stuffed rhino lost out because museum staff had replaced the horns weeks before with plaster copies.

Museum workers found that the popular white rhino exhibit had had its horns sawn off when they turned up for work at the "Museum Koenig" in Bonn, Germany.

The crooks broke into the museum by smashing a 30 cm by 30cm hole in a glass door and climbing inside. They had the saw with them and police said it was clear what they were after.

Rhino horns are much sought after for use in Chinese medicines and can bring up to 43,000 GBP per kilo where they are often made into potency medicines.

Museum spokesman Kurt Waldner said: "We got rid of the original horns and replaced them with plaster imitations due to the high risk of theft. The thieves obviously didn't realise that it was plaster however and made off with the horns though the same hole they entered in. They should have guessed when they realised how easy it was to saw through."

Police believe the thieves are part of the so-called 'rhino horn Mafia' who have been stealing horns from all over Europe.

Victims include the Natural History Museum in Bamberg, Germany, a hunting Museum in Oerrel and a Zoological museum at Hamburg University as well as at the Natural Sciences Museum in Paris. At the end of March thieves even sawed the tusks off an elephant which used to belong to Kind Ludwig XIV.

The museum spokesman said: "We even had a security guard here for a while, but stopped that after it seemed we were not in their sights."

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