News & Views

The Case of the Masked Bandit

It was a cool sunny morning in late April when I first arrived at the scene of the crime in the rocky hills of Jeffersonville, New York.  I came out of retirement after being contacted by the Chickadee family,  who reported that pounds of sunflower seeds were stolen during the night.  There was little evidence to work from, no paw prints, scratches or other evidence.  The method of operation was clear.  The bandit was able to access the new penguin shaped metal bird feeder, hanging from the birch tree in the front yard.  Removing it from the branch where it hung from a chain, the perpetrator was strong enough to drag the feeder several feet and remove the very tight metal top. There were no claw marks or damage and I immediately eliminated our usual suspect, Mr. Black Bear. All of the seeds were gone.

I knew I was dealing with a sophisticated and experienced perp, so I turned on the motion sensor near the driveway and placed the feeder back in its original spot, hoping to apprehend the suspect during the early hours of the morning.  The very next day I examined the area. To my surprise the perp had returned and completely avoided setting off the motion sensor during the night. Instead of removing the penguin feeder, the perp was able to climb the pole of the wooden feeder and flip the top back, pulling the nails away, and accessing the sunflower seeds.  I carefully examined the feeder with my magnifying glass.  But, again, no evidence was left behind, and the M.O. was different from the usual black bear, who was known to break the wooden feeder post and rip the feeder apart, leaving claw marks and damaging the nearby shrubs.

As an experienced investigator, I began developing a profile.  Based on what we knew, I estimated the perp to be between 24 and 36 inches tall, weighing about 20 pounds, and very athletic. He definitely knew his way around the woods, and most likely lived in the neighborhood.  There were no witnesses.  Everyone I spoke with said they were sleeping and didn’t hear anything.  With the canny ability to circumvent the motion sensor and slink through the dark of night, I knew we were dealing with a pro! 

A few days passed and nothing was disturbed. The perp must have known we were watching and had a hideout. “Maybe there was a lookout or accomplice”, I thought. Then, about two days later, we got the break we were looking for.  I was awakened by my partner Melinda at about 6:00 AM. Melinda was on surveillance and spotted something moving near the penguin feeder.  I quickly got my Nikon camera and watched from the bay window.  We had the perp red-handed.  I fired off several shots from the Nikon so  we had the proof. 

I wasn’t surprised to learn that our perp was none other than Mr. Rocky Raccoon.    

The Masked Bandit on the Run, phot by Gary Cormier

— Gary Cormier
    Warblings, Summer 2017

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