The case of the missing artifacts

He was a lone wolf and a bit of a mystery man, a Californian with a taste for Montana museums. Visiting regional collections, he would artfully steal exhibits for his personal collection. Sometimes this was done by distracting staff, other times it was a case of grab when no one was looking. He especially liked Civil War stuff and Indian relics. The theft of Indian relics put the law on his trail.

No one will ever know how much he stole because his house, which is where he kept the loot, burned down. The thief himself is dead.

It's a fascinating local story.

What's the motive? Give me the easy answer: "Stevens' attorney, Chuck Watson of Bozeman, described Stevens as a leading authority on weaponry who had a legitimate business trading artifacts ..." A business trading stolen artifacts. Isn't that a criminal enterprise? But get this:
Stevens was lonely, reclusive and afflicted with a disorder known as Asperger syndrome, Watson said. The illness manifested itself in Stevens as an obsession with certain collectible items, Watson said, and "his criminality was driven by mental illness."
I never heard of Asperger's syndrome and looked it up.

* "Asperger's Disorder is a milder variant of Autistic Disorder." That would not be a mental illness.

* "Those with the syndrome are conspicuously lacking in common sense." This man ran a business and went decades without detection; he finessed hundreds, if not thousands, of dishonest interactions with museum staff. "None of the people interviewed in the case knew that Stevens was stealing museum artifacts, not even his wife, investigators said."

* His wife? "Asperger's ... is ... characterized by severe and sustained impairment in social interaction."

* "Clumsiness is prominent both in their articulation and gross motor behavior." This fellow rigged complex thefts requiring a high degree of manipulation and coordination: "Stevens had tied rope to his leg and walked out after a few minutes with a 5-foot rifle secured inside the rope in his pant leg and hidden under his coat. Stevens broke into the rifle's display case by using a screwdriver to remove screws and glass."

There's more on this story here.