Canuck the crow, Vancouver's most notorious bird, is being accused of flying away with a knife from a crime scene.
The crow has quite a reputation in Vancouver and its antics are regularly chronicled on social media, including a dedicated Facebook page that has a profile photo of the bird holding a knife in its beak.
Earlier on Tuesday, police had shot a man near Hastings and Cassiar streets. They were called to the scene of a car engulfed in flames. When they arrived, police said, they were confronted by a man with a knife.
Shots were fired and the man was arrested.
Vancouver Courier reporter Mike Howell said he saw the bird — which had a red tag on its leg as does Canuck — swoop in and pick up an object from inside an area cordoned off by police tape.
"A cop chased it for about 15 to 20 feet, and then the crow dropped it and took off," Howell told CBC.
"It was really strange. In my 20-plus years reporting from crime scenes, I've never seen anything like that crow trying to take a knife."
Vancouver police confirmed a bird did indeed take off with crime scene evidence.
"The crow was persistent, but the knife was eventually gathered as evidence," Const. Brian Montague said in an email.
The bird was also spotted sitting on the roof of the burned car and trying to get into a camera operator's gear.
Among its other exploits, Canuck attacked a cyclist in East Vancouver last year and posed for a mock interview with CBC journalist Dan Burritt.
It was also spotted riding the SkyTrain.
This particular crow was raised by humans and is a common fixture around its East Vancouver neighbourhood.
Anatomy of a crime
Crows are known to be curious and intelligent creatures, so why would it pick up a knife?
Wayne Goodey, a zoology lecturer at UBC, said city crows are sometimes attracted to shiny things.
"They might associate a shiny foil with edibles or food wrapping from a restaurant," he said. "And they have no way of knowing it's not food until they put it in their beaks."
He also said the knife's green handle might have appeared like food to the crow and piqued its interest.
"It was a crime of opportunity."