An 11 kilogram meteorite worth more than $16,000 has been stolen from a museum in a Queensland town near Cairns.
A pair of male thieves were believed to have entered the premises of The Crystal Caves in Atherton through a smashed window at approximately 12:10 am on Monday morning.
Museum owner Ghis Gallo said the rock had been on display for less than a month.
“Because we had just acquired it our thoughts were that we’d have it in our shop for about a month where people could just see it, touch it, pick it up and experience it freely,” Ms Gallo told Fairfax Media.
“And then it was going to go into a purpose-built exhibit in the museum.”
Ms Gallo has posted security camera footage of the thieves breaking into the museum and making off with the valuable rock on a social media page with the hope of solving the crime.
David Reneke from Australasian Science Magazine has said the treasure must be recovered quickly as collectors are willing to pay thousands of dollars for a piece of space history.
“These things are valuable for a lot of reasons, not only because of the mineralogy but because of what they represent,” Mr Reneke told the ABC on Tuesday.
“These bits of rock are usually between 4.5 and 5 billion years old. They come from a place between Mars and Jupiter and if you ever wanted a pristine part of a planet like Earth, this is where you go.”
The meteorite was reportedly discovered in Western Australia in the 1970s.