Jailbird: Swiss collector sentenced for filching feathers

July 5, 2017
An unnamed Swiss man was sentenced to three years for stealing the feathers of dozens of birds, including buzzards, red kites and a rare eagle owl

A Swiss hawk enthusiast was on Wednesday sentenced to three years behind bars for stealing more than 10,000 bird feathers worth an estimated $6 million from European museums.

A Basel court found the 45-year-old man, whose name was not given, guilty of aggravated theft and property damage between 2005 and 2012, and handed him a three-year prison sentence, the ATS news agency reported.

The court, which began hearing the case on Tuesday, also sentenced an accomplice to a 15-month suspended prison term.

The man would gain access to ornithology collections at various museums in countries including Switzerland, Germany and Austria, claiming he was doing scientific research, according to ATS.

He would then pluck feathers off exotic and valuable birds, stealing what were described as "very rare and precious objects, of inestimable scientific value".

His victims included red kites and buzzards, a variety of eagle and the endangered Usambara eagle owl of Tanzania.

The man was charged with the of feathers from 127 different species over more than seven years.

According to state prosecutors, the stolen feathers were worth a combined 427,000 Swiss francs ($443,000, 390,000 euros), while the various museums suffered an estimated six million Swiss francs ($6 million, 5.4 million euros) in damages.

Ever since the man's collection of some 10,500 feathers was seized in 2012, he has been undergoing psychotherapy to try to understand what led him to commit the thefts, ATS said.

Explore further: Man sentenced for money laundering in massive hacking scheme

Related Stories

Swiss crack case of parrot egg underwear smuggler

October 17, 2013

Swiss customs authorities said Thursday that they had arrested a bird specialist who smuggled the eggs of protected parrots in his underwear and travelled the globe trading in rare species.

Recommended for you

Light-based production of drug-discovery molecules

February 18, 2019

Photoelectrochemical (PEC) cells are widely studied for the conversion of solar energy into chemical fuels. They use photocathodes and photoanodes to "split" water into hydrogen and oxygen respectively. PEC cells can work ...

Solid-state catalysis: Fluctuations clear the way

February 18, 2019

The use of efficient catalytic agents is what makes many technical procedures feasible in the first place. Indeed, synthesis of more than 80 percent of the products generated in the chemical industry requires the input of ...

Sound waves let quantum systems 'talk' to one another

February 18, 2019

Researchers at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory have invented an innovative way for different types of quantum technology to "talk" to each other using sound. The study, published Feb. 11 in Nature ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.