TUCSON, ARIZONA — Eric Miller has been a vendor at Tucson's Annual Gem and Mineral Showcase for more than 20 years, but couldn't have predicted what would happen when he came to town this February.
"One of my trays, which had six fossils in very distinct places, six dinosaur claws, one was missing. I thought, 'Oh my gosh. One is missing,'" said Miller.
He quickly discovered more than just one fossil was missing.
Two ancient Spinosaurus claws from Africa, worth $25,000, were grabbed from his display at a Days Inn hotel in Tucson.
"I sat down and called the Tucson Police Department within minutes of discovering the theft," said Miller.
Miller also spread the word around town and asked other vendors to keep an eye out.
"It was our hope that the thief might, at some point in time, go to somebody else in Tucson and try to sell them. In fact, that's what happened," said Miller.
On February 8, nine days after the fossils were stolen, the thief attempted a sale.
The Tucson Police Department was called and officers arrested 39-year-old Christopher Thomas.
"I was thrilled. It took so much pressure off of me and everybody else," said Miller.
Miller plans to come back to Tucson for future shows but will take new precautions.
"Security is an issue. It's a good idea to photograph your more expensive things before the show even starts," said Miller.