Squirrels like nuts. Nuts go well with chocolate. So do squirrels like chocolate?
The Logan Avenue squirrels of Toronto apparently do. In recent months, at least two of them - a typical grey one and a roguish-looking black one - have been caught on surveillance camera slipping through the front door of a convenience store on the street, snatching candy bars, and leaving as quickly as they came. Their tastes lean toward Kinder Bueno, O'Henry and other bars commonly sold in Canada: Crispies, Wonderbar and Crispy Crunch.
The daughter of the couple who own Luke's Grocery, Cindy Kim, told the Toronto Star last week that the 'sneaky' rodents had stolen about 48 candy bars during the fall season. She added that although her family finds the bandits "very, very cute," it does not appreciate their growing tab.
In a bid to prevent the pillage, Kim started a Reddit thread three months ago. Its title: "How to stop squirrels from stealing chocolate bars?" She explained that her family likes to leave the store door open because it gets stuffy indoors. Animal control authorities hadn't been helpful, she wrote. And sprinkling red pepper flakes on the bars might deter the squirrels, but it would also be hazardous for human, paying customers.
"Though we can't see it the moment it commits the theft (because the bars are displayed below the counter, on the customer's side), we can hear a distinct rustling. When we come around the counter to try to catch it, we can see the squirrel running off with the bar in its mouth," Kim wrote. "We tried running after it, but it's still faster. A couple times, [passersby] and customers tried chasing after it with us, but once it goes up a tree, it's game over."
Reddit users offered other ideas for controlling the squirrels - which are also known for stealing inedible objects - such as a screen door or owl decoys. But the suggestion that took off was: Make those squirrels go viral, drum up some business, and solicit donations to cover the lost income.
And so Kim has. She filmed the thefts. She put them on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and elsewhere. And she set up a donation page that asks people to "Buy a squirrel a chocolate bar!"