Alaska Costco Shoppers Say Crows Steal Their Groceries


ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – Some Alaska Costco shoppers said crows stole their purchase in the store’s parking lot.

Matt Lewallen said he was packing his purchases into his car in the parking lot of an Anchorage Costco when crows swooped in to steal a short rib from his cart, the Anchorage Daily News reported Friday.

“I literally took 10 steps away and turned around, two crows came down and I instantly grabbed one from the package, ripped it off, and flew with it,” Lewallen said.

Lewallen said the piece of meat was about 4 by 7 inches in size, a sizeable meal for a sizable bird.

“They know what they are doing; It’s not the first time, ”Lewallen said. “They are very fat, so I think they have a whole system there.”

And once he returned home, he noticed that one of the crows had hit another rib but did not steal it.

“I cut up that meat and started marinating it and my wife said, ‘That’s disgusting, we should remove it,’” Lewallen said. “Costco really got it back even after we started marinating them and gave us a full refund.”

Additional sightings of raven thieves have surfaced on social media.

“My parents went about their business after a shop and came home with one less steak!” Kimberly Waller wrote on Facebook. “The bird took it out of the package in the parking lot.”

Anchorage resident Tamara Josey responded to Waller’s post and referred to the crows as “calculating.” She said the crows were hovering around her in an attempt to steal her purchase.

“I had two crows, one that was in the car next to me and it kept screaming really loud,” Josey said. “He would sit in the car and stare at me, then he would jump next to the truck bed on the other side, and he would keep going back and forth. The other crow was on the ground. He kept trying to pull, I had those little melons that you have in the mesh bags, he kept trying to grab the net and get my melons out of the cart. “

A raven circled around Josey until he got them to leave.

“I was waiting for another chance to get the melons from the cart, but they never stopped,” he said. “They just stayed informed, waiting for their next opportunity to steal something from my cart.”

“They are very dedicated to their mission,” he added.

An Anchorage Costco manager declined to comment to the newspaper about the raven thieves.

The Anchorage Audubon Society counts the crow population each December. The group reported 923 common ravens in 2018, 621 in 2019, and 750 birds in 2020.

Rick Sinnott, a former wildlife biologist with the state Department of Fish and Game, said hundreds of crows fly to Anchorage in the winter to feed. After winter turns to spring, most of the crows leave, Sinnott said.

But before doing so, the crows stay behind to pluck assorted meats, fruits, and vegetables.

“For years, decades, you’ve seen people in grocery store parking lots with all this food,” Sinnott said. “They know what a fruit looks like in a shopping cart because they have seen it on the ground or they have seen it in a garbage can.”

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