Man Admits to 1971 Theft of Revolutionary War-Era Rifle

by Msnbctv news staff


In October 1971, a rifle made in the course of the Revolutionary Battle was stolen from a show case on the customer middle at Valley Forge State Park in Pennsylvania.

The case was regarded as theft-proof, however somebody used a crowbar to pry it open in broad daylight, quickly after the museum, about 20 miles northwest of Philadelphia, opened that morning, in accordance with The Philadelphia Inquirer, which wrote concerning the theft on the time.

A while later, a boy scout on a tour along with his troop observed that the rifle, a five-foot-long weapon made by a grasp gunsmith, Johann Christian Oerter, was lacking.

Forty-seven years later, in July 2018, the person who stole the rifle, Thomas Gavin, bought it, together with a trunk stuffed with greater than 20 vintage pistols and a Native American concho silver belt, to Kelly Kinzle, a Pennsylvania antiques supplier, who paid him $27,150, in accordance with federal court docket paperwork.

On Tuesday, Mr. Gavin, 78, pleaded responsible to 1 rely of disposing of an object of cultural heritage stolen from a museum, a cost that carries a most penalty of 10 years in jail. He was ordered to be held with bail set at $100,000 earlier than he’s sentenced on Nov. 15.

His lawyer didn’t instantly reply to a message for remark.

In February 2020, F.B.I. brokers and detectives from the Higher Merion Township Police Division questioned Mr. Gavin, who admitted that he stole the Oerter rifle in addition to vintage weapons from different museums throughout Pennsylvania, in accordance with a plea settlement.

Mr. Gavin admitted that he stole revolvers and pistols from a number of establishments, together with the American Swedish Historic Museum, the Valley Forge Historic Society and the Pennsylvania Farm Museum, the plea settlement mentioned. The weapons, considered one of which had a bayonet, had been made within the 18th and nineteenth centuries, the doc mentioned.

He additionally confessed to stealing the silver belt and several other firearms made within the 1850s from the Hershey Museum in Hershey, Pa., in accordance with court docket paperwork.

The rifle that was taken from the Valley Forge customer middle was made in 1775 by Oerter, a gunsmith on the Moravian settlement of Christian’s Spring, close to Nazareth, Pa.

David Condon, an knowledgeable in vintage firearms who examined the rifle, mentioned its market worth was $175,000, in accordance with court docket paperwork.

A lawyer for Mr. Kinzle, the antiques supplier, informed The New York Instances in 2019 that his consumer found that he had purchased a stolen weapon after he learn concerning the theft of the Oerter rifle in a 1980 ebook by George Shumway, an knowledgeable on vintage lengthy rifles who died in 2011.

The rifle was amongst a variety of vintage firearms that had been stolen from the Valley Forge Historic Society and the Valley Forge State Park museum within the late Sixties and Nineteen Seventies, in accordance with federal prosecutors. Valley Forge was established as a nationwide park in 1976.

Prosecutors mentioned that Mr. Gavin ought to be ordered to pay not more than $20,200 in restitution, in accordance with the plea settlement. They didn’t stipulate what sentence they’d suggest to the decide.



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