'Elephant' In the Room Stolen Near White House

Police reported a pair of ivory tusks stolen from a Washington, D.C. City Hall building.

A pair of ivory tusks goes missing from a Washington, D.C. City Hall building. (Photo courtesy of MPD)
A pair of ivory tusks goes missing from a Washington, D.C. City Hall building. (Photo courtesy of MPD)
How do thieves steal an elephant — or at least part of one — from a room only blocks from the White House and underneath the trunks of the most powerful people in local Washington government?

Police in Washington would sure like to know.

The Metropolitan Police Department is asking for the public's help in finding a pair of ivory tusks, gifted to the district in 1954 by the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie. The tusks could be anywhere in the world, they said.

They had been on display in the Wilson Building at 1350 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, but sometime in August it was noticed that they were gone. Officials didn't forget to alert the public missing elephant parts; they wanted to see if staying quiet would help them catch the thieves in the act of selling them.

The DC police estimate the value of the tusks at somewhere north of $10,000, thanks to a thriving world ivory market and loopholes in the laws designed to protect elephants from poachers who want their tusks.

It's illegal under the Convention on International Trade to sell ivory harvested after 1989. The problem is that it's still legal to sell ivory harvested before then and the before-the-ban and after-the-ban ivory is difficult to distinguish.

Anyone with information that could help identify or locate a suspect should call (202) 727-9099. If that information leads to an arrest, the informer could be awarded up to $1,000, police said. 


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