Kenny MacDougall was stumped: why were daily newspapers disappearing from outside a Prince Edward Island elementary school?
“Some days we’d have it, and some days we wouldn’t have it. We probably went a week without having it at all,” MacDougall, the principal of Stratford Elementary School, told the Toronto Star.
The papers were being delivered every morning, local newspaper The Guardian promised. The school even moved the delivery from the front of the back of the school, thinking that would thwart a potential thief.
But the papers were still only there sporadically.
That’s when MacDougall decided to check the school’s security cameras.
“Within 30 seconds, you could see the lights of the delivery person’s car coming in, you see the paper perfectly tossed in the middle of the sidewalk,” he said.
“And then out from behind the fence . . . you see the fox.”
The footage captured an unlikely culprit red-handed: less than 10 seconds after the newspapers land on the sidewalk, a sly fox makes a bee-line for the stack, puts it in his mouth, and scurries out of the frame.
“Let me know if you know where we can track down this suspect?” MacDougall wrote on Facebook, where he shared the video on Jan. 25. It has since been watched over 101,000 times.
Caught on camera
Someone has been taking the Guardian newspapers from our school ! We get 5 newspapers delivered each day to Stratford Elementary School. We asked the Guardian to deliver them to the back of the school instead of the usual front of the school .Sure enough they were taken again today . But we caught the thief on camera ! Let me know if you know where we can track down this suspect ? Hopefully you recognize the Culprit and can give me an address or possible dwelling location of the thief!!
Posted by Kenny MacDougall on Monday, 25 January 2016
“Hopefully you recognize the Culprit and can give me an address or possible dwelling location of the thief!!” he joked.
MacDougall now has the newspaper placed into a bucket outside the school every morning. But that hasn’t deterred the fox from trying his luck.
“The last three mornings when (the delivery man has) driven into the parking lot to put the papers in this bucket that we have set up, the fox has come down the walkway,” he said.
“He’s still coming around, but there (are) no papers for him to get . . . Pretty smart.”
Mark Engstrom, interim director and curator of mammals at the Royal Ontario Museum, told the Star in an email that foxes sometimes use newspapers to line their dens.
“This is near the mating season for foxes so they will be insulating dens for warmth and in preparation for having pups sometime in March-April. I don’t hear of them stealing papers too often, but I have heard of it before,” Engstrom said.
“What I don’t know is they have a preference for particular publishers or columnists!” he joked.
The whodunit caper has spread around the school, MacDougall said, with some teachers incorporating it into their lessons. Other schools in the province have also sent him student compositions with tips on how to catch the clever fox.
“Elementary school kids are always losing things. Well, now everybody’s light-heartedly blaming it on the fox. Who knows what he has in his den? It could be everything that’s ever been lost in the school.” MacDougall joked.
A film crew even tried baiting the fox outside the school for a documentary earlier this week. MacDougall said they used — you guessed it — a newspaper.
“It didn’t happen. The fox has outsmarted them,” he said. “He’s saying, ‘I wait for the delivery guy, I don’t fall for this.’ ”