A New Mexico man is in custody for stealing a meteorite that turned up in St. Louis on Christmas Eve.
St. Louis meteorite dealer Tim Heitz says a man called him Dec. 21 with a meteorite for sale.
“The man told me that it belonged to his father and his father was a rock collector," Heitz said.
"He said he knew it was worth a lot more, but he needed the money to buy Christmas presents for his wife and his kids.”
The 20-pound chunk of iron and nickel Heitz received in the mail on Christmas Eve was, in fact, stolen from the University of New Mexico. It is a piece of a massive meteorite that struck Russia in 1947.
Today, Derek Douglas is in custody in New Mexico for stealing the rock after being arrested during a separate break-in at the school.
In appreciation for returning the former asteroid, the University’s museum has given Heitz a smaller but rarer meteorite that landed in northwest Kansas.