A prehistoric mystery was solved in Canberra on Monday as a three-metre long dinosaur statue was recovered by ACT Police.
The three-day hunt for the missing statue, stolen from Canberra's National Dinosaur Museum late on Thursday night, ended after a police tip-off led investigators to a house in Page.
A 20-year-old man who was last night assisting police said the missing fiberglass Utahraptor statue had been stolen as part of a birthday prank.
A spokesperson for ACT Police said the man had allegedly stored the statue – valued at $2500 and imported especially for the museum collection – in a sunroom at the rear of the property.
The statue's tail was removed but it was otherwise undamaged.
A special response unit retrieved the dinosaur and transported it to the Belconnen Police Station, where it is expected to be reunited with it relieved owners.
Sergeant Marcus Boorman from Belconnen Patrol said that the man appeared contrite and apologetic for his actions, and had been planning to return the item this evening.
Earlier a police patrol unit attended the popular Shepherds Lookout site, near Holt, after a tip off on a Facebook page devoted to Canberra gossip.
An anonymous user on the Canberra Confessions page claimed to be one of thieves and suggested the statue had been thrown off a viewing platform.
Despite reports in Australian and international media, the search for the missing Utahraptor ran cold while internet parodies circulated online.
Museum manager Richard Mancuso thanked police and the local community for finding the missing item.
"We are exceptionally happy it has been found after a few days and it is great that the police will be able to resolve the matter," he said.
"The community support we have received from local Canberrans has been very much appreciated."
Mr Mancuso said the museum phone lines had been flooded with information, including from a woman who thought she saw the statue at Melbourne's International Flower and Garden Show.
The museum was also targetted in 2012, when vandals damaged a Tyrannosaurus Rex head and removed its silicon teeth just months after a $150,000 refurbishment.