78 year old antique thief, Thomas Gavin has been sentenced to a day imprisonment decades after stealing an antique gun from a US museum.

When questioned, he admitted to dozens of other robberies in the 1960s and 1970s and apologised for the trouble he has caused saying he likes “collecting” old things.

 

As part of his plea, Mr Gavin admitted that he stole an antique rifle, crafted by a master gunsmith in 1775, from the Valley Forge State Park Museum in 1971.

The Christian Oerter rifle is one of only two such rifles known to have survived with its original flint mechanism that bears the maker’s name, place and date of manufacture. It is worth more than $175,000 (£131,000). The rifle dates back to the US revolutionary war

 

The FBI found Gavin after he attempted to sell the rifle and other stolen items to an antiques dealer in July 2018.

 

The dealer later told reporters he realised the rifle was stolen after seeing it mentioned in a 1980 book written by an antique rifle expert.

In July, Mr Gavin – a resident of Pottsville, Pennsylvania – pleaded guilty to disposal of an object of cultural heritage stolen from a museum.

“Stealing an artefact from a museum – literally a piece of American history – is a serious federal offense,” US Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams said in a statement. “After four decades, justice finally caught up with this defendant.”

In addition to his day behind bars, Mr Gavin was sentenced to three years of supervised release, including one year of home confinement, as well as a $25,000 fine and a $23,385 restitution payment

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