Posted By SqueakeyCat
A company that manufactures and installs car wash systems installed a car wash system in Frederick, Md. Now, understand that these are complete systems, including the money changer and money taking machines.

The problem started when the new owner complained that he was losing significant amounts of money from his coin machines each week. He went as far as to accuse the manufacturers employees of having a key to the boxes and ripping him off.

Trusting His employees, the manufacturer just couldn't believe that his people would do that, so they setup a camera to catch the thief in action. Well, they did catch him on film!

That's a Starling sitting on the change slot of the machine.

The bird had to go down into the machine, and back up inside to get to the money!

That's three quarters he has in his beak!

Another amazing thing is that it was not just one bird -- there were several working together.

Once they identified the thieves, they found over $4000 in quarters on the roof of the car wash and more under a nearby tree.

Here's what The Urban Legends Reference Pages has to say about this:

Change Is in the Air!

Claim: Photographs show thieving birds stealing quarters from a car wash.

Status: True.

Origins: Many readers spotted this item about avian coin thieves on the Utah Birds web site. The Utah birds folks were e-mailed the story and found it interesting enough to put it up on their site, but they initially didn't know anything more about it. All the information that could be gleaned from this message - that a car wash in Frederick, Maryland, installed by someone named Bill had supposedly been losing thousands of quarters to coin-stealing birds - wasn't much to go on.

A newsperson from 98 Rock FM radio in Baltimore was kind enough to supply us with the missing details. The car wash pictured above is actually in Fredericksburg, Virginia, not Frederick, Maryland. Bill Dougherty at Magic Wand Inc., the car wash outfit that installs and maintains these machines, confirmed that birds had indeed been making off with hundreds of quarters per day.

As described above, after Mr. Dougherty discovered the Fredericksburg car wash machine was coming up several hundred dollars short per week, he initially suspected his employees of using pass keys to loot the machine. When he set undertook a surveillance mission with a camera in hand to catch the thieves in action he did indeed manage to snap pictures of the perpetrators in the act, but they weren't quite what he expected. Not only were the "thieves" who were stealing the quarters of the avian variety; they were working in tandem to do so: one bird would go up inside the machine to jimmy coins loose, and the other birds would grab them and fly off with them.

Starlings, the birds pictured here, are often attracted to bright, shiny objects and will collect them for nesting or mate-attraction purposes whenever the opportunity presents itself. Most likely one or more starlings was attracted by the glint of overlooked quarters in the change cup and made off with them; other starlings saw where the quarters were coming from and imitated the behavior, learning in the process how to work as teams to retrieve coins from inside the machine itself.

 
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