Connellsville police, citizens solve Pickle Parrot costume theft
By Mark Hofmann
Published: Monday, Nov. 18, 2013, 12:33 p.m.
The Pickle Parrot costume from The Pickle 99.3 FM has been found.
Bunnie Mitchell of Connellsville walked into the Connellsville Police Station on Friday to report a theft. Someone had stolen the red and yellow Pickle Parrot costume from her porch.
Connellsville police were quick to act and on Saturday, the Connellsville juvenile responsible for the theft was found and the Pickle Parrot costume returned.
Mitchell, who is the Pickle Parrot mascot, had recently worn the costume to an event. She had washed the $8,000 costume at a local laundry and then hung it to dry on the porch at her Ninth Street home.
Connellsville Police Chief James Capitos said Mitchell went to Wal-Mart between 9:30 and 10 a.m. Friday and when she returned, the costume was gone.
“I was in a panic,” Mitchell said. “I was wondering what else did they steal.”
The radio station responded by going on Facebook to alert fans in the area. “The Pickle Parrot's ‘body' has been stolen! This is no joke! It was lifted off the porch of someone in the Connellsville area. Be on the lookout for it and if you see it notify the Connellsville Police Department.”
The community responded. Mitchell had friends watching in the area along with her son's girlfriend monitoring any activity about it on Facebook.
The effort paid off. On Saturday evening, police received a phone call. Someone spotted the Pickle Parrot walking around Route 119 and going to the Sheetz store along Crawford Avenue. Mitchell's friends spotted the parrot entering Sheetz and took a cell phone photo.
“We're happy people picked it up and the neighbors were vigilant,” said Bruce Baker, senior account executive with Froggy 94.9/Pickle 99.3.
The parrot was taken into custody at Sheetz.
However, the male teen wearing the costume was not the thief.
The juvenile told police he didn't know the costume was stolen. He was at a friend's house and that juvenile asked him if he wanted to wear it.
That friend, a 16-year-old male, admitted to police he took the costume from Mitchell's porch. He said his friend took no part in the theft.
Capitos said the department will file a juvenile petition against the 16-year-old, who lives near Mitchell.
“I think they should do some kind of community service with a sign around their neck reading ‘I stole the parrot mascot suit,'” she said.
“But I'm happy to get it back,” she added.
Baker said the Pickle Parrot has been around for 13 years. The radio station is located out of Brownsville.
“We started to make it look like a pickle, but it didn't look right,” Baker said. So, based on the Froggy 94.9 mascot Mr. Froggy, station officials decided to make The Pickle mascot an animal and chose a parrot.
Mitchell has been wearing the costume for more than four years. She said she's having a great time wearing it at events and playing with the children who want to be around the parrot; however, the recent theft has caused her to feel uneasy.
“I laugh about it now, but I feel violated that they trespassed on my property,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell is thankful for those who spotted the costume and to the Connellsville police for doing a great job.
Baker was happy to see the reaction of fans who responded to the message on the station's Facebook page. He said The Pickle and Froggy are the top two radio stations in Fayette County.
“Both Froggy and The Pickle Facebook pages are very active,” Baker said, adding they are starting a promotion on the Froggy Facebook page, where high school choirs are encouraged to submit a CD or MP3 performance of a Christmas song where listeners will vote on their favorite song. The finals will take place at Solomon Auto Group on Dec. 19, where the winner will receive $500 toward their school's music program. The deadline is Nov. 29.
Mark Hofmann is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-626-3539 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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