Back when NASA was still the biggest space agency on the planet, a 25-year-old high-flying NASA intern, Thad Roberts was arrested after stealing a stash of Moon rocks, dinosaur bones, and a meteorite.
This might seem like a ‘normal crime’, but the intern became a legend after admitting that he wanted to steal the moon rocks so he and his girlfriend could have sex ‘on the moon’.
And sex on the moon they had. After holding up in a motel with his stolen loot, the ballsy intern and his girl sprinkled the world’s most valuable rocks on the dodgy motel bed and did it as they do on the Discovery Channel. That’s an Alien Ant Farm reference for the older folks.
Roberts might have gotten his rocks off on the space rocks, but the Hollywood-like crime caper came to an end when he eventually got caught in an FBI sting operation and ended up in prison for eight years.
But it may just have been worth it for the clever young ‘moon pirate’.
Most of the Moon rocks collected by the Apollo astronauts and brought safely to Earth are locked up in a secure NASA facility, making Moon rock among the most valuable substances on Earth, which is why Roberts’s theft of 101 grams of Moon rocks – valued at some $21 million dollars (R406 million) – is one of the biggest heists in history.Roberts was one of the up-and-coming interns at NASA and even hoped to be the first man on Mars one day. Being clever as a whip and with movie-star good looks certainly bode well for his career, until one day when he noticed that a sample of moon rocks they were testing at NASA’s lunar lab in Houston didn’t really have the most secure storage conditions.
So the intern hatched a plan to steal some of the rocks, his reason mostly being to give his girlfriend a night she would never forget. Roberts obviously became aware of the value of his potential loot, and in an act that eventually lead to his downfall, he tried to sell some of the rocks to a Belgian amateur mineralogist who expressed a willingness to buy some of it.
Unbeknownst to the thief, the mineralogist contacted the FBI about the planned ‘moon job’, and they set a trap.
Meanwhile, Roberts and his crew (you gotta have a crew) had their own troubles getting at the rocks as an ‘informed lab techie’ only gave him a cryptic clue to the combination of the safe the rocks were held in. Not about to let a few thousand dollars and the promise of Astro-sex fall flat, the crew eventually took the whole safe and made their getaway.
They drove their out-of-this-world loot to a nearby motel where they cracked open the safe with a power saw before Thad and his girlfriend scattered the stolen moon rocks across his bed and had sex on them. Part one of the plan was completed satisfactorily, and so the next part was put into motion. Selling the rocks.
Using the alias “Orb Robinson”, the intern reached out to his Belgium contact and as agreed, left to make the sale at a local family-owned Italian restaurant.
There, ‘Orb’ and his partners were arrested and the Moon rocks were successfully recovered in their nearby hotel room.
We hope the sex was worth it because along with being prosecuted, Roberts and his girl also ‘contaminated’ the moon rocks, as well a meteorite that was virtually useless to the scientific community afterwards. On top of screwing the science out of the meteorite, they also destroyed three decades’ worth of handwritten research notes by a NASA scientist that had been locked in the safe.
Thad was sentenced to more than eight years in prison for his role in the caper, as well as a separate offence of stealing dinosaur bones from a museum in Utah.
The entire story does a good job of illustrating how ‘opportunistic’ Roberts could be, and so, the intern used his time in prison to continue his education in the field of science.
Orb Robinson emerged from prison eight years later with degrees in physics, anthropology and philosophy from his cell, and has become a leading authority on the large-scale structure of the universe.
You can still read about his exploits in a book entitled Sex on the Moon: The Amazing Story Behind the Most Audacious Heist in History by Ben Mezrich.Crime is wrong, but this guy did it for a good cause. Kinda.
[imagesource:flickr] People flock to Egypt every year to visit the 4,500-year-old Great...
[imagesource:needpix] There's one day of the week that can be pretty deadly when it com...
[imagesource:wikiwand] If you're still wondering if it was worth it to close the foresh...
[imagesource:youtube/variety] Two of the best TV shows of the last year or so - The Whi...
[imagesource:tiktok] You never know what awaits you when you stroll through the 'Compan...