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Hopewell police chief wins wild goose chase, quacks down on geese thief

Posted at 11:59 PM, Apr 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-15 11:11:19-04

HOPEWELL, Va. -- Some might say law enforcement isn't all that it's quacked up to be.

But Hopewell police chief John Keohane said his 33 years with a badge has been great because "every day is different."

Take Thursday, for example.

"This is the first goose caper I've ever had," he said.

It began in the morning at the Hopewell Moose Lodge – not the Goose Lodge, mind you - when the chief, other area officers and citizens exited the Hopewell/Prince George Crime Solvers meeting.

Hopewell police chief John Keohane

Hopewell police chief John Keohane

The chief saw a young man acting suspiciously across the road by a large, swampy pond, scooping up something near an adult goose.

"I could tell by the way he was holding something," Keohane recalled. "I said, 'I'll be darned, he just took some babies.'”

"And suddenly I heard loud, loud squawking and mother or papa goose was coming right over in hot pursuit."

Geese are known to be ferocious. They've been used as guard animals since the Roman times.

"He's lucky he got in the truck in time," the chief said, "because they weren't too far behind. They wanted to get a piece of his hind parts."

Geese 2

They called for a traffic stop by a marked unit and Keohane said the 22-year-old suspect had the trembling goslings under a flannel shirt.

"They were very nervous, those geese, because he was wearing a lot of goose poop on him there as he got out of the truck."

The suspected goose stealer was charged with a misdemeanor under state code 29.1-521: unlawful to transport or possess wildlife.

The young man, who lives about five miles away from the pond on Baxter Road, was apologetic, telling CBS 6, "I wanted to take the baby geese home with me to put with my chickens."

The chief took the goslings back to the pond, hoping the parents were still there, close by.

"As soon as I got out of my car I could hear them squawking at each other. And I said, hmmm, sounds like they may be having a little bit of a domestic on the pond right now about who was in care of the children."

But the goslings made their own sounds and soon the family was reunited, paddling together through the water and plants under a beautiful spring sky.

By then, the chief was already getting calls from his fellow officers, quacking on him for being the "goose commander" and the "chief of the geese."