From the Great Train Robbery of 1963 to the recent Hatton Garden raid, the history books are filled with epic and romanticized tales of heists. One that won’t be making it into these books is the recent theft from a New Zealand conservation organization’s truck.
In Roseneath, a quiet suburb of Wellington in New Zealand, criminals smashed a window of a van owned by conservation company Goodnature and stole numerous boxes labeled “chemicals”. It’s thought the criminals were trying to get materials for drug-making, but it turned out what they had actually just stolen was 16 bottles of stoat anal gland oil. Bummer.
"Stoat anal gland oil is extremely smelly stuff and it lingers on any fabric or surface," Robbie van Dam, director of the Goodnature company, told New Zealand Herald.
"We popped a gland in our lab a couple of years ago during research. We had fans running and windows open in the middle of a Wellington winter, and it still took weeks to go. Some staff chose to work from home for a couple of days," he added.
The pungent oil is used to attract stoats and other small mammals into traps. The oil is becoming particularly useful following New Zealand’s plans to eradicate all introduced mammal predators by 2050. The plan is particularly focused on rats, possums, mice, feral cats, and stoats, which cause $2.3 billion of damage a year and decimate populations of native species, including 20 kiwi birds a week. The stoat was introduced to New Zealand in the 19th century to help control the rabbit population.
"We're normally just trying to attract stoats, rats or possums, but I guess there are other kinds of opportunist pests in Roseneath," van Dam added.