Unless marked otherwise, photos taken from @ethyl.byrd
In a feature last year on Ethyl, the bizarre-looking bird statue that watched over students from her perch near the intersection of Frericks Way and Stonemill Road, mechanical engineering major Dillon Schimmoeller (Ethyl’s owner) challenged anyone to try and steal her.
Well, people responded to that challenge. On at least two separate occasions since the beginning of this academic year, someone has tried – and failed – to steal Ethyl from her new perch on the 400 block of Stonemill.
“…We’ve had Ethyl now for over a year…and we’ve faced no major theft attempts until that fateful evening,” according to Schimmoeller.
Listen to the full interview
That fateful evening was the 21st night of September, during family weekend. (Actually, the vandalism occurred in the early hours of Sept. 22, but this rare opportunity to reference Earth, Wind & Fire was too good to pass up.)
Schimmoeller and his roommates think someone was returning from a bar on Brown Street when he would have seen Ethyl dressed in fairy wings, a cowboy hat and free sunglasses.
Presumably, the vandal knocked Ethyl off the porch railing in an attempt to steal her. However, the heist was prevented because she was strapped down with hose clamps and a bicycle lock, which Public Safety recommended the roommates use last year.
Still, the image of the vandalized bird statue left an impression on Schimmoeller.
“She was lying face down in the bush beneath her perch – a horrible way to leave somebody,” he said.
The roommates also said they believe the bird statue fought back against the would-be thieves.
“When it comes to fight or flight, we know she don’t fly,” Schimmoeller said. “So there’s only one option left.”
But Ethyl’s trials did not end on the 21st night of September.
During the early hours of Oct. 20, someone was similarly able to knock the bird statue from the porch railing, but they were unable to steal it because of the security locks. This time, however, the roommates caught the attempted heist on video.
After the first theft attempt, senior mechanical engineering major Paul Nguyen, one of Schimmoeller’s roommates, set up a phone with a motion sensor app that records their front porch whenever there is movement.
They shared footage of the thwarted heist on Ethyl’s Instagram (@ethyl.byrd). According to senior communication major and roommate Adam Roman, they discovered the identity of the failed thief, who offered to pay for any damages. While the roommates did give his name to Public Safety, they aren’t pressing charges.
Schimmoeller said Ethyl, and her fans, have been resilient through these experiences.
“Ethyl still stands strong within our hearts,” he said.
Roman also said the attempted thefts have inspired an increase in Ethyl-themed merchandise.
“If we’ve learned anything from this incident, it’s that people want Ethyl,” he said. “So we’re going to try and give them Ethyl.”
The roommates are selling Ethyl t-shirts and YETI mugs and giving out free stickers.
You can purchase these items by reaching out to the roommates through Ethyl’s Instagram account (@ethyl.byrd).