Van Leeuwen Hooked

museum.jpgA pest to pests has been caught and convicted of theft from the museum where he once worked, according to a December 6, 2006 report in The Australian:

Museum worker’s bone haul

WHEN investigators raided the home of former Australian Museum pest controller Hendrikus van Leeuwen, every room except his bathroom and the kitchen was filled with stuffed animals and skeletons.

Among the items found on his western Sydney property were the skulls of a Javan rhino and a thylacine, the skin and teeth of a clouded leopard and the skeleton of an Adelie penguin collected during the 1912 Mawson expedition to Antarctica.

The keen taxidermist, skull moulder and collector stole an incredible array of animal and bird specimens from Australia’s oldest museum between 1996 and 2003.

In the NSW District Court yesterday, van Leeuwen confirmed his guilty plea to 15 charges of stealing as a servant and accepted that a further 179 stealing offences should be taken into account when he was sentenced.

At dispute in the District Court is whether some of the specimens were damaged while they were in van Leeuwen’s possession…

For further tidbits of museum criminal capers, see Ton Cremers‘s presentation “?And the curator did it.” (PDF)

(Thanks to investigator Sally Shelton for bringing this to our attention.)