updated 3/18/2008 9:36:00 PM ET 2008-03-19T01:36:00

A piece of meteorite stolen from a museum was recovered after a man who owns another slice of the same rock saw it at a gun show. Someone stole the 12-by-16-inch meteorite slice valued at $5,000 from the Joshua Tree Earth and Space Museum in Lakeville about two weeks ago.

On Saturday, museum founder Terry Boswell got a call from a friend and fellow meteorite collector who was working at a gun show at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis.

"He said, 'I think I found your meteorite,'" Boswell said, "and I couldn't believe it."

Neil Smith told Boswell that a man was trying sell the rock but left it behind before police arrived. Boswell said Smith owns another slice of the meteorite and was one of the few people in the world who could have identified it.

"The odds of someone stealing this meteorite and then taking it to the person who has the sister piece is unbelievable," Boswell said. "There are only a handful of people in the world who would be able to identify with certainty, and here he goes right to this fellow who knew it was stolen."

The name of the man who tried to sell the meteorite has been given to the Lakeville police, who are searching for him, Boswell said.

The meteorite is being stored in the museum office, while Boswell looks for ways to increase security.

Boswell created the museum about 10 miles south of South Bend as a place where children could get hands-on experiences with objects like fossils and meteorites.

He said the museum is looking for ways to increase security.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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