Will lack of security put museum at risk?
Officials at the Natural History Museum at Tring have admitted its security system is not up to the job in the face of new threats to its stock.
The confession came as Tring Town Council gave its backing to a plan for 13 new CCTV cameras at the site.
Thieves broke into the Akeman Street museum in 2011 to steal £60,000 rhino horns – but were foiled by staff who had replaced them with £50 resin replicas.
The switch-over came after a spate of similar thefts across Europe, due to rising demand for powdered rhino horn in the Far East, where it is thought to cure ailments.
Museum head of security Stuart Craik said there has been an increase in thefts and attacks at regional museums throughout Europe.
He said: “It’s very clear the threat level towards our collections has changed.
“We have been working closely with other museums and law enforcement agencies to plan a proportionate response to these new threats.
“The existing system does not offer adequate coverage for this new context.”
But he stressed that the museum would only replace specimens with replicas if there was a real and current threat from thieves.
In 2009, 22-year-old American flautist Edward Rist broke into the Tring museum and stole 299 priceless birdskins.
Only 172 of them were later retrieved by police.
The Natural History Museum at Tring was built in the grounds of the former Rothschild family home, Tring Park, by Lionel Walter, 2nd Baron Rothschild, to house his collection of mounted specimens.
The collection includes extinct animals and birds like the quagga, thylacine and great auk.
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Weather for Tring
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Temperature: 4 C to 14 C
Wind Speed: 22 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 4 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North west