A recent burglary in Australia has put the Beijing Natural History Museum into the global media spotlight.
A 110 million-year-old Psittacosaurus sinensis fossil was stolen on July 20 from the Newcastle Regional Museum in New South Wales, Australia.
The 60-centimeter-tall fossil was among more than 50 dinosaur bones and birds, including 13 complete dinosaur skeletons, on loan from the Beijing Natural History Museum.
The Australian museum had been exhibiting the fossils for nearly one year. The stolen fossil -- one of only 10 of this type in the world -- was taken on the day the relics were due to be returned to Beijing.
The thieves climbed a 2.4-meter-tall fence and broke a security-glass window to enter the museum. Although they triggered the alarm, it took them no more than 7 minutes to steal the fossil and escape before the police arrived, according to early local reports.
Local police are heading the investigation, but have so far failed to find the thieves or recover the precious fossils.
The Newcastle Regional Museum has offered a reward of A$5,000 (US$3,267) for the fossil's return.
If the museum and police fail to find the fossil within one month, compensation of A$40,000 (US$26,500) will be paid to the Beijing Natural History Museum under an insurance policy taken out by the New South Wales government, according to the contract between the Beijing and Newcastle museums.
(China Daily August 29, 2003)