Cops have launched a manhunt for the gang who nicked three priceless space rocks belonging to one of the heaviest meteorites to ever hit Earth.
According to reports, three masked men broke into the ‘Campo de Cielo’ park located on the border of the northern Argentine provinces Chaco and Santiago and stole two meteorites weighing 25 kilogrammes (55 lbs) as well as an 18-kilogramme (40-lbs) space rock.
Campo del Cielo (Park of the Heavens) refers to a group of iron meteorites found at a crater field that spans an area of three by 18.5 kilometres (1.9 by 11.5 miles).
The site, which has at least 26 craters believed to be between 4,000 and 5,000 years old, was first reported on in 1576 although it was already well known to the aboriginal inhabitants of the area before then.
The total weight of the recovered fragments is said to be 100 tonnes, making the meteorite possibly the heaviest to ever land on Earth.
The robbers reportedly surprised the security guards, tied them up and locked them in a room before extracting the rocks and fleeing the scene.
Police said the perimeter fence had been broken and that the suspects probably escaped on at least one motorbike waiting by the park’s entrance.
Tourism official Mauro Flores said that the meteorites are worth “millions on the black market”.
He added: “As we have seen on the internet, they can be sold at a very high price. That is why I believe they were stolen.”
Campo del Cielo has been struck by thieves before. In 1990, an Argentine traffic cop reportedly foiled a plot by American collector Robert Haag to steal a large rock known as ‘El Chaco’.
The piece had already been moved out of the country, but was later returned to Campo del Cielo and is now protected by a provincial law.
The investigation is ongoing.