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Rhino head raid pair are jailed
10:20am Wednesday 3rd October 2012 in News
TWO burglars who stole a valuable rhinoceros head from a museum have been jailed.
Jamie Channon, 33, and friend Tony Moore, 30, broke into Haslemere Education Museum last May to steal the head for its valuable rhino horn.
There have been a spate of similar break-ins organised by criminal gangs at museums and galleries across Europe, to fuel a growing black market trade for the horns, which are ground up and used in Chinese medicines.
On the black market, rhino horns sell for about £50,000 per kilo, making them more valuable than gold, diamonds and cocaine.
Victims of the thefts included Sworders auctioneers, in Stansted Mountfitchet, in February 2011 and Colchester Zoo in 2010.
Channon, from Melba Gardens, Tilbury, and Moore, from Ottowa Road, Tilbury, were arrested with a third man, who was never charged, after an appeal on the BBC’s Crimewatch programme.
They were seen at the museum shortly before the theft, with the other man said to be carrying out “reconnaissance work.” Guildford Crown Court heard staff became aware of the trio because they were “not their usual” visitors.
They were provided with a map and a suggested route to follow around the exhibits, said Sarah Lindop, prosecuting, but they made their way to a display containing the rhino head, where they looked at fire exits and skylights before leaving.
The museum theft came during a spate of break-ins at supermarkets across Surrey, Sussex, Hampshire and Kent, in which £60,000 of cigarettes were stolen.
Channon and Moore, who had a string of previous conviction dating back to the 1990s, also admitted conspiracy to burgle 13 supermarkets, after telephone records traced them contacting each other at the time of the thefts.
Sentencing, Judge Christopher Critchlow said the thefts clearly had “organisation and planning” behind them. Channon was jailed for seven years and Moore for five.