This article originally appeared on VICE US.
Not to pile on with all the other bad news out there right now, but we regret to inform you that the Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion, a museum that houses rare lizards, insects, and scorpions, was robbed last month. Roughly 7,000 bugs, spiders, scorpions, millipedes, frogs, and snakes were stolen in total, and, uh, no one seems to know where they are.
According to the museum's owner, John Cambridge, the massive "live-insect heist" cost the museum nearly 80 percent of its insect population, a staggering $40,000 haul, CNN reports. Cambridge says that security footage of the heist caught a couple of employees pulling off the job. They allegedly managed to slowly sneak bins of millipedes, roaches, and tarantulas out of the museum over the course of a few days, packing them into a car parked outside. Before they sped off, the thieves left a bizarre message, stabbing two Insectarium uniforms into the wall with kitchen knives.
Among the thousands of stolen insects pulled straight from your nightmares, the thieves allegedly stole a bunch of warty glowspot roaches, which look about as horrifying as they sound; some venomous red spot assassin bugs, predators with an extremely painful bite that look like they crawled straight out of the mouth of Hell; and one six-eyed sand spider, a spindly, easily camouflaged monster whose venom can literally kill you.
Cambridge told CNN he knows exactly who pulled the heist—the employees he suspects never showed up to work after it went down—and the cops have reportedly already gotten in touch with them. They've searched their homes, but they still can't find all the bugs: They've only managed to recover about a dozen, meaning thousands of spiders, scorpions, and insects could literally be anywhere right now.
“They are extremely easy to hide,” Cambridge told the New York Times. “We want to make sure that these creatures are treated with respect.”
It's impossible to say where they might be: Maybe flittering about in some rogue insect activist's garage somewhere, like that stolen shark. Maybe they got loose and they're making their way across Philly on the local public transportation. Or maybe they're being hidden away, a collection to be used later for someone's twisted act of revenge.
It's unclear why anyone in their right mind would want to subject themselves to taking in thousands of these living beasts, but Cambridge told CNN he thinks the suspects are probably trying to sell them. Who knows: Maybe the thieves are just bug enthusiasts who want to give their little friends a better home. Or maybe, God forbid, they want to set them free.
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