Local Man Who Stole Revolutionary-Era Rifle from Valley Forge Park 50 Years Ago to Spend One Day in Jail

Thomas Gavin stole this rifle PI
Image via Yong Kim, Philadelphia Inquirer.

Thomas Gavin, the man who stole more than a dozen historic firearms from East Coast museums in the 1960s and 1970s, including a historic Revolutionary-era flintlock rifle from Valley Forge National Historical Park, will spend one day in jail, writes Jeremy Roebuck for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

He had kept the stolen items for half a century in a barn on his Pottstown estate, until FBI agents linked him to the Valley Forge theft.

He spent a good part of the ’60s and ’70s finding and acquiring historic artifacts.

While his two-decades-long crime spree was remarkable in itself, the sentence also fits the category. U.S. District Judge Mark A. Kearney sentenced Gavin to one day in jail, one-year house arrest, two years of probation, a $23,485 restitution order, and a $25,000 fine. Gavin is now 78 and in a wheelchair.

Among the reasons for this lenient sentence were legal limitations, including the expired statutes of limitations.

“You were on quite a tear as a young man stealing artifacts and not getting caught,” said Kearney. “But here’s the interesting part: But for your disposal of those items in 2018, you wouldn’t be sitting here. I think that’s a fascinating gap in our criminal justice system.”

Read more about Thomas Gavin in The Philadelphia Inquirer.