The Eccles Dinosaur Park in Ogden, Utah, is an eight-acre expanse of greenery filled with dinosaur replicas, where kids can travel back in time and discover the awe-inspiring creatures that once roamed our planet. Around 100 dinosaur models, all gaping maws and towering limbs, dot the park. But three of those replicas were recently stolen from the attraction—a bizarre crime that has ended with the recovery of the missing models.
According to Hailey Higgins of Fox13, the thieves made off with three fiberglass raptors, each measuring five feet tall and seven feet wide. The raptors were depicted attacking a larger dinosaur; two of the models were bolted to the ground, and one was mounted onto the side of the unfortunate prey, as though about to take a bite.
Whoever was responsible for the theft came prepared. The models were ripped off their mounts with power tools, according to Mike Anderson of KSL TV, and the perpetrators managed to evade the park’s security cameras. They did not, however, succeed in getting the replicas out of the park intact. Staff found disembodied raptor feet by a back fence, where the culprits seem to have made their escape.
The stolen raptors have been fixtures of the park for the past 15 years, but were recently refurbished by the artist Kirk Larsen, who was checking on the replicas earlier this week when he discovered that they had vanished.
“Why—why would someone steal them?” Larsen asked in an interview with KSL TV. “What purpose do they have with three dinosaur statues?”
The crime is indeed a baffling one. The models are worth between $10,000 and $20,000, but given that they are made out of fiberglass, there is “not a lot of resale value,” Jeff Bond, the park’s education manager, told KSL TV. Still, Bond noted, the raptors are “worth a lot in terms of teaching visitors here.”
Eccles Dinosaur Park is an educational attraction, and its models—some of them robotic—are based on dinosaur fossils. A ticket to the park also includes entrance to the Elizabeth Dee Shaw Stewart Museum, where visitors can view fossilized remains and watch paleontologists at work in a lab.
Fortunately, the stolen raptors have been found, though the circumstances of the crime remain unclear. “Thank you all for the outpouring of love and for sharing the story about our Dino's [sic]!” the park said in a brief Facebook post on Thursday. “They were found and recovered today!!”
Because the raptors are in need of repairs, they will not immediately go back on display. The timing is not ideal for an exhibit to be taken out of commission, Bond says, given that the weather is warming and park season is on its way.
The incident, though it ended happily, came as a blow not only to park staff, but also to visitors of the attraction. Speaking to KSL TV, one Michelle Spencer, who was visiting the park with her son, succinctly summed up her thoughts on the theft: “It was rude! Why would you do that?”