BEIJING – Chinese police have arrested a man accused of stealing dozens of fossilized dinosaur eggs, state media said Monday, but some eggs are still unaccounted for.
The man surnamed Wang allegedly stole 80 eggs from a collector in Zhejiang province on the night of Jan. 9 along with three accomplices, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
Wang had previously visited the collector twice under the pretext of making a prospective purchase, the report said.
The four suspects divided the loot between them and Wang took home 27 eggs.
Police recovered the 27 fossils after they arrested Wang in his hometown in Huanan County in Heilongjiang province on March 4, provincial police said in a statement.
Wang’s three accomplices were also soon apprehended, according to the statement. It did not say what happened to the remaining stash of stolen eggs.
Heilongjiang police confirmed Wang was in police custody but refused to confirm the status of the other suspects.
China had previously reported numerous discoveries of similar fossils.
The city of Heyuan in Guangdong province set the world record for the largest collection of dinosaur eggs, with nearly 17,000 unearthed in the city since the first clutch was found in 1996 by group of children playing at a building site.
In December 2015 U.S. police returned to China an illegally imported fossilized dinosaur bone believed to be about 120 million years old.