Police have opened an investigation into the theft of an 8-foot tall metal chicken displayed in front of Helen's Hot Chicken, which is expected to open next month in Portland, Tennessee.
"I've lived here for over 3 years now," Emmett Carter, owner of the new Helen's Hot Chicken, said. "I just figured it would be great for the community."
Carter had put in months of hard work to get Helen's Hot Chicken ready for business, and to help with the advertisement and character of her new restaurant, she placed the giant chicken out front.
Yet, on Valentine's Day, the chicken was stolen.
"I just couldn't believe it. I was in shock," Carter said.
No one was at the restaurant at the time of the theft around 2:20 p.m. on Tuesday. The thieves were caught on a security camera, and carter hoped that even though the people in the video were hard to recognize - one wearing a mask and the other a hoodie - that someone would who they are and contact police.
The chicken was named "Toot," a childhood nickname of Carter's son, and while the theft of the chicken is upsetting, Carter said the thieves took it to another level by wearing a mask and having no regard for the people around them.
"Completely different level, a scary level. One that people in the town should know about," Carter explained. "For them to do something like this, it's very disrespectful, and you know, I'm trying to get the restaurant open so obviously, it's been hard, and this just made it way worse."
Carter said she hoped someone with information would call police, but if not, she hoped to replace "Toot" with a new giant chicken; so that it can be a landmark in the community that people recognize and love.
The Portland location of Helen's Hot Chicken is expected to open in March.