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

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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.

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