5. 55 Stolen Oscars
In the lead up to the 2000 academy awards, 55 Oscar statues were stolen from a Roadway Express docking bay a few miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles.
In the week after the statuettes went missing, 61-year-old Willie Fulgear discovered several boxes in an alleyway that contained 52 of the 55 missing Oscars. He claims he was rummaging through a rubbish bin in Koreatown looking for cardboard boxes he could use to pack up some of his belongings. Fulgear was rewarded with US$50,000 and two tickets to the Academy Awards.
In a bizarre twist, Fulgear’s brother, John Willie Harris was charged on accessory to grand theft and receiving stolen goods. Two Roadway Express employees were also arrested for the theft of the 55 Oscar statues.
Fulgear allegedly passed a lie-detector test before receiving his reward.
4. Stolen Bridge, Russia
In January, 2008 thieves managed to dismantle a 200-tonne bridge in rural Khabarovsk in eastern Russia.
The missing bridge was discovered when workers of a local heating plant found that their only route to work had completely vanished.
Police investigators said that the robbers struck in the night, taking apart the enormous bridge in a matter of hours. They said the thieves were most likely taking the steel and other raw materials to sell as scrap metal.
A spokesperson said that the cost of replacing the bridge would most likely be ten times the value of the stolen materials.
As it turns out, stolen bridges aren’t all that uncommon. Other notable bridge thefts have occurred in Pennsylvania, when a 50-foot steel bridge was stolen by scrap metal thieves, and another in Turkey when robbers dismantled a 82-foot long bridge, worth around US$12,000 in raw materials.
3. $18 Million in Stolen Maple Syrup
On a scale of weirdest things ever stolen, this is right up there.
From 2011 to 2012, three men managed to steal 2,700 tonnes of maple syrup worth more than US$18 million from a warehouse in Quebec, Canada.
Over the course of a year, the men inconspicuously drained hundreds of barrels of syrup, replacing their contents with water. The theft wasn’t known until a routine stock take revealed that the sweet stuff was missing.
One of the men, Richard Vallieres, was sentenced to eight years in prison, had US$606,500 confiscated, and fined US$9.4 million. He was ordered to pay back the money in ten years or risk having his sentence increased by six years.
The two other men involved in the heist, Raymond Vallieres and Etienne St-Pierre, both received two years jail time, along with community service and three years probation.
2. Stolen Pigs
In August 2011, a farmer in Minnesota woke up to find 594 pigs had been stolen from his family farm.
The thieves operated under the cover of darkness, taking numerous trips down a long dirt road, past gated security, to load the hundreds of pigs onto a truck.
Police attributed the spate of statewide pig thefts to a rise in pork prices. At the time, farmers were making close to US$200 per pig and it’s thought that the pork pilferers would have sold their haul to a slaughter house almost immediately.
A spokesperson said that the problem with pig theft is that they all look so similar, so thieves can just blend them into an existing group of pigs and easily get away with the crime.
1. Einstein’s Brain
On April 18, 1955 one the greatest scientific thinkers of the 20th century, Albert Einstein, had his brain stolen after being pronounced dead from an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
At around 1 AM, approximately seven hours after Einstein’s death, the pathologist on call, Dr. Thomas Stolz Harvey, began conducting an autopsy. During the postmortem investigation, Harvey began removing and measuring Einstein’s brain, a procedure that he had no legal right to perform and went specifically against Einstein’s wishes.
According to Brian Burrell’s book Postcards from the Brain Museum, Einstein explicitly stated he wanted to be cremated with his brain still inside his skull, and that he wanted his ashes spread in an unknown location to avoid fanfare.
Harvey had no legal or medical right to remove the brain and in effect stole the vessel of one of the greatest minds of all time. He kept Einstein’s brain for several decades, releasing speculative medical papers on the brain, suggesting that Einstein had abnormal proportions of two types of cells, neurons and glia. The studies divided the medical community with the general consensus being that the results were bias.
After Harvey controversially took the brain, his professional and personal life fell into turmoil. He lost his job at the Princeton hospital, his wife left him, he even lost his medical licence in 1988 after failing a three-day competency exam.
Einstein was intelligent enough to know that the media and medical community would obsess over his remains after passing, that’s the reason why he wanted to be cremated in secret.