Band of raccoons caught red handed stealing porch lights

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“Oh my god, that fat little creature.”

ERYN DION News Herald Reporter @PCNHErynDion

PANAMA CITY — One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Or, more accurately, one woman’s lightbulbs are another raccoon’s treasure.

A few months ago, while sitting on her porch overlooking the Bay, Robbie Fehrenbach noticed one of the eight incandescent lightbulbs she uses to light the deck was missing. She’d recently had guests with children over, so she assumed one of them popped the bulb out of its fixture.

Not a big deal, she thought, and replaced the bulb, not giving it a second thought.

Until a few weeks ago, when she again went out to watch the sunset, and noticed none of her deck lights were working. She checked the wiring, thinking something had short-circuited, but everything was working fine. And then she checked the lightbulbs.

Or she would have, but all eight had been removed.

Fehrenbach replaced the bulbs again, but soon enough, those ones were gone too.

“We were getting a little worried,” she said.

She put the neighborhood on alert, letting them know there was a possible bulb bandit afoot. Next door, the family was on a stakeout, watching Fehrenbach’s deck at night, hoping to catch the power prowler. Fehrenbach herself decided to invest in a wildlife camera to hopefully get whoever was stealing her lightbulbs on film. She put out two bulbs as bait, and waited. 

The next morning, she had her culprit — roving raccoons, caught red-handed stealing bulbs out of their fixtures and making off like masked bandits.

“Oh my god, that fat little creature,” Fehrenbach said.

The raccoons would come by their porch, usually around 5:30 a.m., long after the lights had gone off, and pick the bulbs out of their fixtures tucked away under the deck benches. Fehrenbach guessed that the light from the sunrise played off the bulbs in such a way that it attracted the robbing rodents. Raccoons like shiny things, after all, she said.

“We’ve only ever found one bulb in the yard,” she said. “We fully expect to see light up there, in the trees. A little raccoon lounge.”

Fahrenbach said she considered gluing the lightbulbs into their fixtures to make them harder to pry out, but she was worried the bulbs might break and hurt the raccoon’s hands. For now, as long as they’re not stealing the halogen bulbs, Fahrenbach said the bandits can stay, and she’ll keep replacing the bulbs until she swaps out the fixtures.

“We’ve decided to leave little treasures out on the porch to see what they take,” she said. “I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of them. We just love them.”

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