A man has been jailed for 10 months after stealing replica rhino horns from Tring’s Natural History Museum.
Darren Bennett, 42, of Battenberg Road, Leicester, was sentenced on Friday, following an earlier trial at Harrow Crown Court.
The court heard that Bennett had forced his way into the Akeman Street museum between 10pm on August 26, 2011, and 4.50am the following day.
He smashed a cabinet which housed the rhino display before taking the horns.
But unbeknown to Bennett museum staff had switched the precious ivory horns with replicas made of resin just two months earlier after a spate of rhino horn thefts from museums in Britain and Europe.
Det Sgt Kevin Deudon said: “We are delighted by the sentence passed on Darren Bennett. He showed no regard for the museum and the historical and scientific value attached to the items he stole and damaged.
“The sentence passed shows the level of seriousness of his crime.”
Museum manager Paul Kitching said: “We want to thank the police for their support in this complicated case. While the replica horns were not valuable themselves, this theft caused significant damage to the museum. It was upsetting for both visitors and staff to see this damage, particularly to the rhino specimens which have a real cultural and scientific value.
“We particularly appreciate the police and courts taking a strong position in protecting our collections. Each of the specimens in our scientific collections is as unique and irreplaceable as a work of art.”