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Three thieves removed the head of a black rhinoceros from the Natural History Museum in Brussels in July – the second time in a month that a rhino head was pilfered from a Belgian institution.

The zoological museum in Liège fell victim to a similar theft in June although the perpetrator, of Polish nationality, was arrested the same day as he headed for the Dutch border.

He told investigators that he had instructions to leave the horn at the base of a statue in the town of Helmond, where a buyer, whose identity has not yet been discovered, would pay him €3000.