Cops: Man's Plan to Sell $25K Dino Claw Went South

Police say Christopher Thomas swiped claw from one show vendor, tried to sell it to another
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 16, 2022 2:01 PM CST

The New York Daily News calls theft "a crime as old as time"—an apt description for what happened two weeks ago at a gem and mineral show in Tucson, Ariz. KGUN reports that Eric Miller has been a vendor at the city's Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Showcase for more than two decades, and at this year's two-week-plus event at a local Days Inn, he put out his usual wares, which included a tray that held six fossils. Two of them were ancient Spinosaurus claws from Africa worth $25,000. At one point during the show on Jan. 30, Miller noticed something was wrong.

"I thought, 'Oh my gosh. One is missing,'" he said of the claws. He then realized the second one had also vanished and called Tucson police. Miller suspected that the person or persons who'd swiped the claws might try to sell them to another vendor at the show. "In fact, that's what happened," Miller says. Police say that on Feb. 8, someone made contact with vendor Adam Aaronson and tried to sell him one of the claws for a "much lower price," per KVOA. That's when Miller and Aaronson set up a "miniature sting operation," per NBC News, telling the potential seller to bring the claw to Aaronson so a "buyer" (Miller) could check it out.

Police say Christopher Thomas, 39, showed up with the claw, and Miller and Aaronson were there to greet him. Per KVOA, Aaronson told Thomas, "This claw is stolen property," then informed him the cops had been called. Thomas was charged with trafficking stolen property. The second missing claw still hasn't been tracked down. Miller says he'll attend shows in Tucson again, but next time he'll be more careful. "It's a good idea to photograph your more expensive things before the show even starts," he advises other vendors, per KGUN. (More weird crimes stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.