Just hours before the end of 2012, thieves in France robbed the flagship Apple store behind the Paris Opera House.
The thieves stole over $1 million worth of iPads, iPhones and other valuable Apple goods while the police were otherwise occupied with New Year's Eve festivities on the Champs-Elysees, The Associated Press reported.
It's easy to see why thieves would choose to target an Apple store, as it's filled with valuable merchandise that's easy to re-sell and commands a high price on the black market. But everything thieves target isn't always a straightforward bonanza. Sometimes they steal items of unknown or dubious value, that range from the confusing to the downright bizarre.
Here are a few notable examples.
A 76-year-old British retiree named Margaret Wells was the owner of a life-size replica of the lovable alien from the Steven Spielberg movie "E.T." The extraterrestrial reproduction was a one-of-a-kind item made for Wells by her daughter and valued at $3,200.
It was stolen from her home during a 2011 burglary. The thieves were never found, but the replica was recovered after being found floating in the sea five miles off the coast of Old Portsmouth the following year.
Three suspects were arrested in December in Montreal in connection with the theft of 10,000 barrels of maple syrup. Canada's Sun News reported that the total value of the stolen treasure was$20 million.
In April, a group of workers in the Czech Republic showed up at a railway station in the town of Slavkov. They had paperwork claiming that they had been sent to demolish a bridge, remove the track and make room for a bicycle path.
They did the first two things, but it was not until they had made off with all the metal that rail officials realized they had been stolen. Not only would they not get a new bicycle path, but they would also have to replace the stolen 10-ton bridge, at a cost of millions of dollars.
In March, three Swedish men in their 20s were convicted of stealing items during an apartment theft. According to United Press International, the thieves made off with jewelry, electronics and $400 in cash. They also ran off with a baby's umbilical cord.
"We had saved our newborn baby's umbilical cord as a memory, kind of like how some people keep a lock of their children's hair," the baby's father told the Swedish press. The thieves were caught with the loot and the keepsake as they fled the man's apartment.
40 Tons of Walnuts
Just before Halloween, over 80,000 pounds of walnuts were stolen from a Northern California company. The nuts were supposed to be bound for Florida and Texas, but according to the Record Searchlight of Redding, Calif., they were driven off with by a man posing as the delivery driver, who even had correct purchase order numbers. The total value of the walnuts was $300,000.
James Dean's Headstone
The headstone of actor James Dean was stolen in 1998. It was recovered two days later when Sheriff's Deputy Aaron Gilman accidentally smashed into it with his car on a country road.
There were no arrests in connection with the theft, so no motive could be discerned, but Lenny Prussack, gift shop manager at the James Dean Memorial Gallery, speculated that "I guess somebody figured they couldn't do anything with it," according to The Associated Press. "You can't exactly show it to your friends."
A collector of exotic animals committed suicide in November 2011, just after releasing dozens of them from his Ohio farm. The animals included bears, lions, tigers and wolves. The lucky ones wound up at the Columbus Zoo, but sadly some were killed to keep the situation under control.
One of the animals in the latter category was loaded into the back of a Jeep Cherokee by five young people, but police stopped them as they were attempting to drive off with it. They hadstolen a dead lion, for reasons that remain undisclosed, according to Reuters.
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