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St. Louis meteorite dealer helps police nab thief

The 20-pound Sikoht-Alin meteorite landed in Russia in 1947.
Tim Heitz
Midwest Meteorites
The 20-pound Sikoht-Alin meteorite landed in Russia in 1947.

A New Mexico man is in custody for stealing a meteorite that turned up in St. Louis on Christmas Eve. 

St. Louis meteorite dealer Tim Heitz says a man called him Dec. 21 with a meteorite for sale.

“The man told me that it belonged to his father and his father was a rock collector," Heitz said.

"He said he knew it was worth a lot more, but he needed the money to buy Christmas presents for his wife and his kids.”

The 20-pound chunk of iron and nickel Heitz received in the mail on Christmas Eve was, in fact, stolen from the University of New Mexico. It is a piece of a massive meteorite that struck Russia in 1947.

Today, Derek Douglas is in custody in New Mexico for stealing the rock after being arrested during a separate break-in at the school.

In appreciation for returning the former asteroid, the University’s museum has given Heitz a smaller but rarer meteorite that landed in northwest Kansas.