PITTSBURGH (Reuters) — Two men were arrested for allegedly stealing two sets of elk antlers with a combined value of more than $500,000 from an exhibitor at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention over the weekend, authorities said on Tuesday.
The vendor told police the antlers — one rack appraised at $500,000, the other at $15,000 — had been taken from his booth at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center on Sunday while he was waiting to pack his truck at a loading dock, police said in a statement.
Other police officers at the convention in Pittsburgh had detained the two men with the antlers, police said. The vendor, an elk hunter who runs a guide service in Rexburg, Idaho, identified the antlers and they were returned to him, according to police.
According to a scoring system that values antlers based on their size and shape, the more expensive antlers had a score of 522 and the other set had a score of 486, rendering both sets very unusual, according to what the victim told police.
Brenda Hartkopf, executive secretary of the Minnesota Elk Breeders Association, said antlers of more than 500 points would be “extremely valuable.”
“Those are very rare sets because there’s not a lot of them out there,” she said.
However, she added that there are no set prices on elk products. “The value is in the eye of the beholder,” she said.
Stephen Christopher Lee, 44, of Cumberland, Maryland, and Gary Curtis Felts, 49, of Jopps, Maryland, were arrested and charged with theft and criminal conspiracy. Both men worked for a Maryland-based exposition services company.
More than 400 exhibitors and some 70,000 people attended the powerful gun lobby’s three-day event in Pittsburgh, which ended Sunday.
Reporting by Daniel Lovering; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Jerry Norton