Thief Sentenced for Stealing Artifacts from the National Archives

The following is from the AOTUS Blog, written by David S. Ferriero, the Archivist of the United States:

“By stealing World War II records from the National Archives and Records Administration and selling them to collectors, a thief victimized the American people and damaged the agency entrusted with safeguarding our nation’s records. Antonin DeHays recently received 364 days in prison and three years on probation, eight months of which are to be served in home confinement, along with 100 hours of community service, for the theft of records from the National Archives.

“DeHays, a private researcher, stole and sold identification tags and related items from files of American servicemen whose planes were downed in Europe during World War II, as well as other original records from the National Archives at College Park.

“Judge Theodore D. Chuang sentenced DeHays at the U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Maryland, also ordering him to pay $43,456.96 restitution to those who unknowingly purchased the stolen goods. Chuang said DeHays committed ‘an egregious, morally repugnant crime’ of ‘auctioning of our history to the highest bidder.'”

You can read the rest of the article at:


I do wonder how many, if any, items were recovered from the people who had bought them. Any idea more info about that?


Should have been harsher!


It sounds like the Archives need a better security system if articles can be so easily stolen. Granted thief should be punished, but a lot of fault still lies with the poor security of the Archives.


Thieves rob banks all the time and banks have a lot of security. It’s the ugly truth that there’s always ways around a system, if the thief is determined enough. And sadly, scholars and researchers used to be trustworthy – but not any more. Many people wish to acquire rare and unusual items and don’t care where they come from (for example, the recent case of the owners of Hobby Lobby being fined millions for purchasing looted antiquities). Too many taboos have been broken so every bit of civil behavior seems to be under threat. A very unfortunate regression of societal ‘norms’.


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