BLUEMONT, Va. — A farm owner in Virginia is taking some drastic steps to keep a crafty fox from stealing her family's shoes.
Victoria Fowler owns Peaceful Hollow Acres with her husband in Bluemont, Virginia. She says for about two weeks they have been dealing with a fox stealing shoes from their front porch.
“He sneaks up the steps and around, you can’t even see him on the video until he’s right in front of the camera," Virginia said. "Then his face appears and he looks around.”
She's named the bandit fox Swiper after a fox famous for stealing in the kids' show Dora the Explorer. She estimates Swiper has stolen almost 10 pairs of shoes.
"They are mostly mine, my mom had a pair in there when she was visiting over the weekend, and my son also lost a pair,” Virginia said.
"We thought some pairs had been misplaced, but on Saturday we noticed a shoe in the yard so we put up a camera and left a single 'bait' shoe with a Tile tracker inside.
A Tile tracker is a small tracking device, usually used to keep track of where you put your car keys, or to easily remember where you parked.
Victoria said Swiper outfoxed them. He didn't take the bait shoe the first night, but came back again the next night and took it. Adding insult to injury, Swiper also chewed through the surveillance camera's charging cord, and dragged the camera a few yards.
"I think Swiper is on to us," Victoria wrote in a post to the Peaceful Hollow Acres Facebook page.
"No he did not! I see a children's story here," one commenter said.
Foxes stealing shoes is not a new phenomenon.
Back in May, Sajan Mohammed caught a fox on camera stealing his shoes in Potomac, Maryland.
Mohammed's video sparked a flood of comments from people with similar stories, and the videos to back it up.
The behavior is rooted in play and teaching young foxes to hunt, explains Margaret Innes, the Assistant General Curator at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.
"If they have young kits that they are teaching to hunt, they are going to bring objects back," Innes said.
When foxes can't come up with a live rodent, they will often improvise, Innes said.
As for Victoria and her family, they don't expect to get their shoes back, and the family has a new rule when it comes to storing shoes.
"We're just not going to be storing shoes on the porch, ever again!"