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Kansas newspaper thief turns out to be fox

Associated Press — July 16, 2004

OTTAWA, Kan. — Neighbors in a subdivision of this small western Kansas community have spent weeks trying to catch whoever was stealing their Kansas City Star newspapers.

The bold burglar crept onto driveways while subscribers slept, grabbed a paper, then turned tail and ran.

The case was finally solved this weekend when Steve Thompson caught the culprit red-handed, or maybe red-pawed.

A red fox had been grabbing newspapers and taking them to a hollow behind the subdivision, Thompson said. The Ottawa dentist tracked the furry felon to a large pile of newspapers near its den.

"We always thought it was an early morning jogger," said Lionel Sutton, another subdivision resident who had his paper stolen.

The newspaper carrier even staked out the neighborhood to catch the canny criminal, Sutton said.

Aaron Scheve, a Kansas Wildlife and Parks ranger for the area, said such behavior is unusual, but not out of the ordinary. He said the fox probably used the papers to insulate its den.

Scheve said red foxes have prospered in urban areas and find easy pickings in discarded food, trash and rodents.

"There are probably more foxes in urban areas than in rural areas now," he said. "They've become very adapted to the city."

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