Sunday, 21. December 2014
23. 01. 13. - 18:00
Swiss police investigating a bizarre crook who has ruffled feathers at natural history museums in Austria and across Europe by posing as a bird expert to steal plumage of rare and extinct species managed to steal more than 4 million euros worth of feathers.
In the process some of the exhibits were damaged beyond repair, say detectives who have contacted museums in Basel, Vienna, Berlin, Stuttgart and Frankfurt.
Police who named the bogus academic who in reality is a building site manager as Stefan G., 40, - were alerted after he visited a museum in Germany using fake credentials and asked to take measurements and make drawings of their rarest exhibits.
When father-of-two Geier who works in the building department of the local council in his hometown of Solothurn in Switzerland left the German museum curators found many of the specimens had had their feathers ripped out and contacted other museums to check on his identity.
"They discovered he was a fraud and that he had been doing the same thing all over Europe since 2007," said a police spokesman in Vienna, Austria, where he was arrested.
The Natural History Museum in Vienna, Austria, discovered he had damaged nearly 100 rare or extinct exhibits.
Professorin Johanna Eder, who is director of the Natural History Museum in Stuttgart that first raised the alarm said: "He was really well informed and over the years became well-known in museum circles. Once he got access – he would steal when feathers and tail feathers and then smuggled them out of the building."
Police said they had confiscated the entire collection.
A friend of his, the taxidermist Erich Widmer (51), said: "He used to be what I would call a passionate collector but that passion became an obsession. His aim was to possess at least one feather every bird of prey that had ever existed."
Speaking from his council office to Swiss media the accused man said his ambition was a noble one and he had not done it for personal enrichment – and had never planned to sell the feathers that were kept in a special room at his home.
Basel prosecution spokesman Peter Gill said it remained unclear whether they could take legal action over the thefts in Austria and Germany – and the court case might well only concern the thefts from Swiss museums.
Ebola's deadly reach impacts Vienna student
Austria has yet to record its first case of Ebola, but the feared virus has already had a severe impact on the lives of Africans living in Vienna.
Grigorij Sokolov Works His Magic At Vienna Konzerthaus
Whilst the world-famous Wizard of Oz played at the Volksoper, there was another Wizard in the Konzerthaus giving his 16th performance in Vienna!
Penelope Cruz To Play The Ice Cream Killer
The memoirs of the woman dubbed the Ice Cream Killer after she shot dead two ex-lovers before hacking the bodies up with a chainsaw and telling neighbours the noise was a new ice cream machine are due to be turned into a blockbuster with Penelope Cruz playing the lead role.
Kid Left In Coma After Beaten By Teacher For Talking
This is the shocking image of a little Chinese girl before and after she was punished by her teacher - for talking in class.
Freezing Rain Causes Chaos In Central Europe
Freezing weather has arrived in Europe with a vengeance with a layer of ice blanketing parts of Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic and causing traffic chaos.
Holey Smoke As Car Disappears Down Sinkhole
Motorist Wei Hsiao found himself in a hole lot of trouble in China when a giant sinkhole opened up on the road beneath him, swallowing his entire car.
Shock Moment Police Helicopter Explodes On Street
This is the moment a police helicopter exploded into a spinning ball of flame in Chile when a fire truck clipped one of its rotors.
More Than Twenty 100,000 GBP Motors Used In Bridal Convoy
A Chinese couple who wanted to have the most expensive wedding convoy possible arranged for a convoy of top of the range cars including a stretch Hummer followed by Lamborghinis, Porsches and other VIP motors.
Riot Police Star In Downs Syndrome Calendar
Spanish riot police have joined forces with Down's syndrome kids to take part in a special calendar for charity.
Chinese Nuclear Winter Smog Leaves Clinics Full
Fresh proof of Chinese scientists' claims that the country's toxic air pollution resembles a nuclear winter are shown by these images that show clinics and hospitals packed with patients suffering with trouble breathing.
The most popular stories –
last 7 days
|UN Security Expert Says One Jihad Poster Girl Is Dead|
|Ebola's deadly reach impacts Vienna student|
|Russian Cops Beat Man To A Pulp In Front Of Children|
|Porsche Driver Crushed After Ploughing Into Lorry|
|Grigorij Sokolov Works His Magic At Vienna Konzerthaus|
Why suffer in silence. Let off steam by letting our readers share your troubles. File your complaints about anything and everything here.
Our ombudsman David Rogers will try and help solve some of the problems from lazy civil servants through to incompetent companies – and at the very least the worst transgressors will end up in our weekly special report.