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7-foot stolen bird recovered thanks to eagle-eyed resident - abc27 WHTM

7-foot stolen bird recovered thanks to eagle-eyed resident

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LEBANON, Pa. (WHTM) -

The seven-foot, wooden eagle used to sit in the lobby of Harrisburg Area Community College's Lebanon campus.

It made quite an impression on neighbors.

"It's beautiful," said Richard Wertz of Wertz candy, which sits directly across the street from the school. "Hand-carved, majestic, it was special."

But when HACC-Lebanon renovated two years ago, the eagle was stored in a nearby warehouse, and then stolen.

Wertz says the theft of the big bird, was a big deal in town.

"It was front-page news here in Lebanon and it was on the radio and I think probably on your network."

Indeed, abc27 did report the story.

But the case went cold.

The school got a new eagle mascot.

Life went on.

Until last week, when police say 23-year-old Jean Correa-Andujar was moving into a Lebanon row home on North 10th Street.

For just a few minutes, the bird was left unattended on the sidewalk.

But those few minutes were enough, according to police, for a passing driver to spot the eagle and realize it had been stolen two years ago. The witness called police.

According to the Lebanon City Police Department, when officers arrived, the eagle was no longer out front but had landed in the back yard.

Correa-Andujar has been charged with theft.

"I think that's pretty cool," said Wertz. "Nice work by a citizen."

A maintenance man at the storage facility where the bird had been stolen from confirmed that he returned the eagle to the warehouse last week. After checking with his boss, he said we couldn't' take pictures of it or see it, and he couldn't talk about it.

The bird is owned by HACC Lebanon benefactor Frank Dixon, who was unavailable for comment Friday. He's said to be thrilled that his eagle is back.

Police say Correa-Andujar, the suspect, worked for a company that had access to the warehouse where the eagle is stored.

He's no stranger to warehouse thefts. We went back into the abc27 archives and found that in 2009 he was arrested, and later pleaded guilty, for stealing toys from a Toys for Tots storage facility.

The eagle's return has not yet been widely reported but it will no doubt have folks in Lebanon squawking about the bird's strange odyssey and what would prompt anyone to steal it in the first place.

"I think it's pretty ridiculous, quite honestly," said Wertz. "Must be pretty desperate or stupid. I just think it's pretty insane really."

The same man who stole donated Christmas gifts in 2008 is responsible for stealing an eagle statue in Lebanon two years ago, according to Lebanon City Police.

Police say 23-year-old Jean Correa-Andujar stole the seven foot tall and four foot wide eagle from a HACC storage facility sometime between December 2010 and April 2011. The eagle, owned by Frank Dixon, was worth several thousand dollars. 

Last week, a passerby saw the statue on the sidewalk in front of 17 North 10th Street and recognized it as the one that had been stolen. When police arrived, the eagle had been moved to the backyard. They believe it was in the process of being moved from another home to Correa-Andujar's home and was only in public view for a few minutes.

Dixon came to the scene and confirmed that the wooden eagle was his. It is now back in his custody. 

When it was stolen, the eagle was in a storage facility at the former GE building. It had been on display in the HACC lobby but had been moved while the college completed renovations to the building.

According to police, when the eagle was stolen, Correa-Andujar worked for a company that had access to the building where it was stored.

Correa-Andujar has previously spent time in prison for stealing donated Christmas gifts from the Toys for Tots storage facility in November 2008. He plead guilty to the charges in July 2009.

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