It’s not often you hear about 150,000 pounds of paleontological resources (fossils) being stolen, but here we are, and yes, it’s even weirder than you think. 

Four suspects were arrested for reportedly stealing about 75 tons of fossils from public lands across Southeastern Utah. The four suspects are being charged with 13 felony charges including conspiracy against the United States. 

Now you may be thinking, “Sure, fossils are valuable, but why the conspiracy charge?” That’s because the fossils were sold in China, and the fossils are technically property belonging to the United States Government (it’s complicated).  

To make matters worse, they didn’t just sell the fossils as they were found. The four suspects have also been accused of damaging the resources since they would polish, cut, and turn the highly valuable fossils into jewelry. 

While that sounds like it would be an interesting fashion statement, it MASSIVELY devalues the fossils. The whole point of paleontology is to study life as it was before any of us existed, and these guys (and girl apparently) are making bling out of it. 

How much damage did these four alleged fossil thieves cause in terms of monetary value? Well, officials from the U.S. government say somewhere around $3 million in damages. 

Let me make something clear. These four paleontological pilferers didn’t steal all 150,000 pounds of fossils in a single night, this was apparently a long con. The suspects illegally removed the fossils from Southeastern Utah public lands between 2018 and 2023.  

While it’s unknown as to why the four alleged dino swindlers went so far as to ruin the merchandise before selling, or how they got away with it for so long, one thing is clear.  

Even in the world of crime, some things are truly timeless. Like what a desperate person will do for money. 


Arches National Park

Gallery Credit: All photos by Shelly Griffin

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