A man was charged after allegedly stealing a dinosaur claw worth $25,000 from a gem show and trying to sell it to another vendor days later, Tucson, Arizona, police said.
Christopher Thomas, 39, allegedly took the claw from one vendor at the city's Gem and Mineral Show on Jan. 30, then tried to sell it to another on Feb. 8 "for a much lower price," according to police.
That second vendor, Adam Aaronson, recognized the artifact and contacted Eric Miller, the owner of the dinosaur fossil who reported two claws stolen Jan. 30, NBC affiliate KVOA of Tucson reported.
Together they set up a miniature sting operation. They told the suspect to bring in the claw for a “buyer,” who was actually Miller, to check out.
"When I saw it come into the room where I was hiding as the potential buyer, I was absolutely thrilled,” Miller told KVOA.
Aaronson then confronted Thomas, saying they would call police.
“I told the guy, ‘Sorry we have a problem, this claw is stolen property. We’re gonna have to call the police,’” Aaronson said.
Tucson police had officers on site who detained Thomas. He was charged with trafficking stolen property.
Attorney information for the suspect was not immediately available.
Tucson police said the case "highlights the importance of vendors/neighbors communicating and working together."
The second claw stolen from Miller is still missing.