Man Who Stole Johann Christian Oerter Rifle Sentenced

Help Support Muzzle Loading Forum:

Joined
Jan 15, 2009
Messages
1,367
Reaction score
914
The rifle was stolen from a museum in 1971 and was recovered in 2019. The thief kept the rifle in his barn for nearly 50 years. Thomas Gavin was sentenced to one day in prison.


"A78-year-old Pennsylvania man who stole a rare Revolutionary-era rifle from a museum in 1971 was sentenced Tuesday to one day in prison and a year of home confinement, prosecutors said.

The man, Thomas Gavin, of Pottstown, was also fined $25,000 and ordered to pay restitution of $23,385.

He kept the flintlock rifle, made in 1775 by gunsmith Johann Christian Oerter, in his barn for 47 years after he stole it from a display case at the Valley Forge State Park Museum, officials said."

Man who stole Revolutionary-era rifle from museum decades ago sentenced to 1 day (msn.com)
 

tnlonghunter

40 Cal.
Joined
Aug 10, 2005
Messages
705
Reaction score
365
Location
Maryland
The upside is that he had a conscience. Paid a big fine.
Now Society has a great Rifle back to treasure. He
should be forgiven. He did not have to return it.
I can't say the idea of a 78-year-old man going to prison is particularly appealing. But according to that article above, this was not an isolated event. Apparently, he stole several other antique guns during his life.

Granted, there are many crimes with much graver effects than antique theft, but I can't say I feel much sympathy for him, whatever the sentence is.
 

smoothshooter

50 Cal.
Joined
Nov 5, 2005
Messages
2,110
Reaction score
638
The rifle was stolen from a museum in 1971 and was recovered in 2019. The thief kept the rifle in his barn for nearly 50 years. Thomas Gavin was sentenced to one day in prison.


"A78-year-old Pennsylvania man who stole a rare Revolutionary-era rifle from a museum in 1971 was sentenced Tuesday to one day in prison and a year of home confinement, prosecutors said.

The man, Thomas Gavin, of Pottstown, was also fined $25,000 and ordered to pay restitution of $23,385.

He kept the flintlock rifle, made in 1775 by gunsmith Johann Christian Oerter, in his barn for 47 years after he stole it from a display case at the Valley Forge State Park Museum, officials said."


Man who stole Revolutionary-era rifle from museum decades ago sentenced to 1 day (msn.com)
Did the thief preserve the rifle with oil or grease to preserve it’s condition.
 
Joined
Nov 3, 2018
Messages
1,205
Reaction score
1,603
Location
New Mexico/Florida
A nearly 80 year old man repents and returns ill gotten gains.
Then agrees to fines and restitution. I think he deserves mercy
and forgiveness. Society got the property back. Murderers have
gotten huge breaks who agree to reveal where they buried the
body. Considering the seriousness of the crime. Forgive and
move on. Maybe someone else, seeing this, will return another
treasure of antiquity. He could have sold or auctioned it in
another Country or put it on the burn pile.
 
Joined
Nov 23, 2010
Messages
4,473
Reaction score
1,896
Location
On the Mississippi in SE Minnesota
A nearly 80 year old man repents and returns ill gotten gains.
Then agrees to fines and restitution.
Where are you seeing that it states HE returned it. He SOLD it! The buyer, at the time, did not know it was a stolen original, but upon finding out turned it over. Also, he was sentenced to fines and restitution....that's different than offering or agreeing.

From the articles:

The theft might have remained unnoticed if not for a dealer who bought the rifle in 2018 and later realized its significance, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported when the artifact was returned to its rightful owners the following year.

But after purchasing the firearm, examining it, and realizing its historical significance, he contacted his attorneys. One of his lawyers, Albert Oehrle, linked the rifle to the theft at Valley Forge years earlier, Kinzle said. Along with attorney Jay Robert Stiefel, they contacted the FBI and began negotiating a handover.
 

Hatchet-Jack

45 Cal.
Joined
Jul 22, 2020
Messages
808
Reaction score
1,011
I looked for a photo of it- Is this the rifle?
View attachment 106256
I don't think that's it. I found an older article released when the rifle was first found. It has a wooden patch box.

"The theft might have remained unnoticed if not for a dealer who bought the rifle in 2018 and later realized its significance, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported when the artifact was returned to its rightful owners the following year."
Rare Revolutionary-era rifle recovered nearly 50 years after brazen theft from Valley Forge
 
Joined
Nov 11, 2011
Messages
1,385
Reaction score
1,908
Location
Surry County, North Carolina
I don't think that's it. I found an older article released when the rifle was first found. It has a wooden patch box.

"The theft might have remained unnoticed if not for a dealer who bought the rifle in 2018 and later realized its significance, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported when the artifact was returned to its rightful owners the following year."
Rare Revolutionary-era rifle recovered nearly 50 years after brazen theft from Valley Forge
Yes your right. Thanks.
 

Stykbow

40 Cal
Joined
Aug 2, 2021
Messages
302
Reaction score
354
Glad it made it back to its rightful owner. Not sure how I feel about the sentence that was handed out. If the same sentence would be given if he was 28 I’d be ok with it. The age of an adult shouldn’t be a factor in sentencing.
 
Joined
Nov 23, 2010
Messages
4,473
Reaction score
1,896
Location
On the Mississippi in SE Minnesota
So happy he had the heart to make it right.
The only thing the thief made right was his wallet when he sold it to a guy who then later found out what it really was and, at his loss, turned it over to the FBI. I assume a portion of the forced restitution was to the honest guy that bought it and turned it in.
 
Top