NYPD helps capture Starbucks furry bandit


Usually when you’re at a Starbucks, a visit from a furry creature with a bushy tail and black fur around its eyes is not on the menu, but for customers at a Riverdale Starbucks it apparently was. This one was a raccoon.

Officers of the 50th Precinct had to escort the intruder out of the Starbucks at Johnson Avenue and West 235th Street on Sunday, Sept. 3. It all started when employees heard scratching noises from up in the air duct.

According to Jay Guasch, a spokesperson for Starbucks, the raccoon was in the air duct and did not get out into the food safety area or the cafe itself.

“They immediately called 311,” Guasch told The Riverdale Press.

“And they sent out animal control to capture and remove the raccoon.”

The protocol regardless of what type of animal may be inside a store is to immediately call animal control or police, Guasch said. In this case it was both animal control and police who responded to the scene.

According to Guasch, security footage showed someone with animal control on the back of their shirt capturing the raccoon. At some point animal control passed the torch to the police.

Footage from News 12 showed a pair of police escorting the raccoon, now in a metal cage, out of the store and into the back of a police cruiser. It was not believed that the raccoon had rabies. The whole incident was resolved within an hour, according to Guasch.

Officer Mercedes Conejo, of the community affairs office, told The Press she spoke with a lieutenant who was on duty during the incident. After the raccoon was captured officers released it into a park, the lieutenant told her.

Guasch said that the Starbucks café is connected to other tenants. She  speculated the raccoon crawled in from outside.

According to Wildlife NYC, raccoons are the most widespread animals in the state. This is because of their ability to live in any environment, such as parklands, marshes, forests and urban and residential areas.

Despite being nocturnal raccoons  they can also be seen scavenging for food during the morning, as employees saw.

The Humane Society of the United States says there are several things that you can do to ward off raccoons. They recommend purchasing wildlife-proof trash cans or securing lids with bungee cords, removing bird feeders at night, and motion activated lights to scare off  raccoons.

Hunting or trapping raccoons requires a license from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. According to Wildlife NYC, once a raccoon is caught in a trap it must be euthanized.

“They may not relocate trapped raccoons into parks or onto other public property,” according to the agency’s website. David Mizejewski, a naturalist with the National Wildlife Federation, told The Press it is important to make sure building structure is maintained and that potential access points for raccoons are closed off.

“Raccoons are fairly intelligent animals and omnivores,” Mizejewski said. “They eat all sorts of different food. They’re generalists, which means they’re not particularly picky. Some kinds of animals can really eat one or a small number of foods or live in (certain kinds of habitats).

“It’s because raccoons are generalists, they’ve been able to thrive even though we’ve cut off their natural habitat and built cities.”

He warns that despite how cute a raccoon may appear people should never approach a one in the wild. Their bites can do serious damage and can carry diseases like rabies. If a raccoon happens to get into your house or property, Mizejewski says the best thing to do is to call the appropriate wildlife authorities.

Professionals should also keep in mind that sometimes raccoons seek shelter, usually in early Summer, so that they can have babies.


raccoon, Starbucks, NYPD, state DEP, department of environmental protecttion, Wildlife NYC, Jay Guasch, Mercedes Conejo