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Insects, arachnids, arthropods, oh my.

Stacey Leasca
September 07, 2018

In August, a Philadelphia museum experienced one of the biggest heists in history. No, it wasn’t for rare works of art, priceless jewels, or even artifacts. It was a bunch of creepy, crawly bugs that went missing.

As CNN reported, 80 different species of insects were stolen from the Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion over the course of a few days in a crime spree that is rocking the entomology world.

The thieves stole an estimated 7,000 insects, accounting for 80 percent of the total collection. They even took an entire colony of rare roaches, orchid mantises, giant African millipedes (technically arthropods), and a few scorpions (technically arachnids).

According to John Cambridge, the chief executive officer of the Insectarium, three current or former employees are the prime suspects, though no arrests have been made. He told Philly.com that the entire haul is likely worth around $40,000.

When he first noticed a few of the critters were missing Cambridge said he didn’t call police right away, choosing instead to confront the employees to help save them from serious criminal charges.

“These are young people,” Cambridge told Philly.com. “We don't want to see this follow them around for the rest of their lives.”

Still, Cambridge will most certainly want the police on the case to regain at least part of his investment.

“I'm not sure there's ever been a larger live-insect heist,” Cambridge told CNN. “Our insurance doesn't cover this. Why would they? This is unprecedented.”

For now, the butterfly pavilion and the gift shop remain open at the museum. Cambridge plans to fully reopen on November 3 with a special event, the Philadelphia Oddities Expo. Hopefully, by then, justice will be served and the creepy crawlers will be back in their rightful homes.

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