'It's a common occurrence. We think it's the same seagull. It happens at least once a day, often three times,' one staff member revealed.
A seagull named Steven has gained notoriety in Devon, U.K., for frequently robbing the local Tesco Extra store and nabbing multiple packets of snacks. While seagulls aren't exactly known for their self-control—we've all laughed at those videos of sneaky gulls soaring down and snatching food right out of the hands of unsuspecting folks (or cried in stunned sorrow if it happened to our younger selves)—this particular serial shoplifter really takes the cake. According to Metro, the bird has been excelling in his criminal career for quite some time now, having figured out the automatic doors at the supermarket in Paignton, Devon.
Steven has now finally been caught red-handed on camera—with his beak full of a pack of Mini Cheddars. The thieving seagull was filmed waiting for the doors to open before scurrying inside. Moments later, he re-emerged with a packet of Mini Cheddars in his mouth and made a run for it before the staff could catch up with him. Steven is reportedly so prolific that he has been known to ransack the store up to three times a day. According to conservative estimates, the seabird is thought to have stolen around 17 kg (about 37 pounds) of food—worth more than £300 (approximately $374)—in a year. However, the true total could be much higher.
While Steven has a special place in his heart for Monster Munch snacks and Mini Cheddars, he is said to love nothing more than a bag of Tangy Cheese Doritos. "I've seen him go in a few times. This time he hopped onto my car bonnet so I started recording—I knew he was up to something," said Liam Brown, who recently managed to catch Steven in the act on camera. "He jumped down and started chewing gum off the floor, then he walked into the shop and ran off with a pack of Mini Cheddars."
Liam continued:— LADbible (@ladbible) May 17, 2022
"He jumped down and started chewing gum off the floor, then he walked into the shop and ran off with a pack of Mini Cheddars." pic.twitter.com/6d1EC8y9Ez
Meanwhile, a Tesco staff member at the store—who wished to remain anonymous—said Steven's visits are a "daily occurrence." Speaking of the stealthy seagull's antics, she said: "It's a common occurrence. We think it's the same seagull. It happens at least once a day, often three times. He's very fussy but Doritos are his favorite. We have to shoo him away because we don't want to lose the stock. We're always keeping an eye out." Some locals with knowledge of Steven's serial thievery said they "couldn't believe" he was still at it.
I'm sure it was him down by the beach 😂 #Tesco pic.twitter.com/hLYNRV1DL6— Johnny Toobad (@poppa1138) May 17, 2022
"I've seen this happen too. He flew off with a bag of Doritos and shared them with a mate on a roof over the road," shared Jenni Elliott. Lisa Buck, a Tesco regular, said: "I've seen him do it. I told the cashier he'd just strutted off with a pack of Doritos and she said: 'Oh, he likes those.'" Another regular shopper at the store, Emma Paulson, added: "I've seen this happen so many times."
And if you've ever wondered why seagulls are so obsessed with human food, a research team last year found that seagulls prefer to approach food that has been handled by people. Madeleine Goumas at the University of Exeter, U.K., explained that the idea for her research came from observing how seagulls acted around humans. "Are they just looking for food, or are they noticing what people are doing and picking up on their cues?" she said. "The findings suggest that herring gulls have learned that handled food is likely to be a good resource. Given how quickly they may be disturbed when feeding in an urban setting, this is a smart strategy," said Mark Fellowes at the University of Reading, U.K.