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Velociraptor statue heist ends with three arrests in South Dakota

SIOUX FALLS, SAN DIEGO (AP) – Police have hunted down a velociraptor that was stolen from outside a South Dakota arts and science centre.

Sioux Falls police Sergeant Aaron Benson said on Friday that a security officer spotted three people carrying the statue away from the Washington Pavilion and called police just after midnight.

Surveillance video then helped officers track the statue to a nearby apartment, The Argus Leader reported.

“When opening the door, detectives could clearly see the velociraptor was sitting right inside,” Benson said.

Police detained the three suspects on charges of grand theft. Benson said one was 18, another 19 and the third a juvenile.

“Fortunately, the statue was not damaged,” stated Madelyn Grogan, the Pavilion’s director of education, programming and exhibits, in an e-mail on Friday.

The statue and many other dinosaur representations are part of the Dinosaurs in the Wild exhibition at the Washington Pavilion’s science center. The organisation did not provide any information on the size or weight of the statue. Scientists believe velociraptors grew to about 1.8 metres long and weighed about 100 pounds (45 kilogrammes) when they roamed the earth millions of years ago.

Grogan said officials are evaluating how they can better secure the dinosaur statue. It was one of two velociraptors featured outside as part of the collection of dinosaur statues; one was perched on the roof of the building, looking out at the city, and the other was almost directly below.