A cunning fox briefly deflected attention from the presidential campaign over the weekend as French citizens sought relief from the omnipresent political fray.
A story about the animal — backed by a YouTube video — was the most shared item on Le Monde’s website at midday on Saturday, overtaking articles about the heated battle between Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande.
It concerned a fox caught in the act of poaching pétanque balls from a property in Belmont, a community west of Toulouse in the southwest of France.
The balls came from a “boulodrome,” or pétanque playing area, built by Patrick Cazes, a petanque enthusiast, at the back of his house, local newspaper La Dépêche du Midi reported.
Cazes was in the habit of leaving balls on the playing area but at the end of February he noticed nine had gone missing.
He initially thought that perhaps kids in the neighborhood had walked off with them.
Cazes continued to leave more balls out but after they disappeared he decided to set up an infrared video camera in a bid to find out who was stealing them.
A total of 38 balls were pinched but the camera revealed a single culprit: a fox.
The animal took the balls to its lair, although it is not clear for what reason.
The YouTube video of the fox caught in the act went viral.
Check out the thief in action here.