(PNJ.com) A bird-napped fiberglass pelican is back on its perch on Pensacola Beach and a small flock of thieves has been arrested in the feather-brained heist.
"Peli-Wacker,'' the pelican mascot at the Sandshaker Lounge on Pensacola Beach, was stolen from outside the club's front door Monday night, the Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office reported Tuesday.
A deputy caught the alleged culprits as they tried to fly the coop with Peliwacker in the back of an SUV that belonged to one of the suspects.
The larger-than-life-size statue was bolted into the ground at the Sandshaker and was liberated about 11 p.m. Monday, said bar owner Beverly Campbell.
"Who steals a pelican?'' she asked. "It's so strange.''
An eagle-eyed citizen soon saw a suspicious vehicle driving eastbound on U.S. 98 in Navarre and called deputies. A pelican was hanging from the back end of the vehicle, which did not have a tag.
Soon, according to an arrest report, Deputy Ryan Counts stopped the vehicle and asked the driver, "What is up with the bird in the back?''
Vehicle driver Daniel Fureigh, 43, replied, "I don't know.''
That didn't fly.
The pelican was rescued and Sandshaker employees hauled Peli-Wacker back to the venerable beach bar.
Fureigh and three other occupants of the vehicle, David A. Darden, 38, Michael C. Duncan, 40, and Richard A. Querney, 43, were arrested and charged with grand larceny theft.
Peli-Wacker was not harmed.
"I appreciate whoever reported it to the police,'' Campbell said. "It's nice to know there are still good people out there.''
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