Surveillance video shows the 35-year-old suspect wearing a hat and coat, milling about inside Omar's Exotic Birds store in Lake Forest, where birds roam freely on perches.
"He was looking left, looking right, kind of monitoring what was going on around him," said Danielle Sklar, an employee at the store.
The suspect then quickly grabbed the colorful parrot named "Presley," shoves him inside his jacket and makes his way to the door. Once outside, he starts running.
But Presley wasn't going easily.
"On his way out, a customer and an employee saw the bird coming out of his jacket and at that point had yelled that he had [the bird]," said Sklar.
A number of customers and employees chased him across the street, eventually tackling him, holding him down until Sheriff's deputies arrived.
"Definitely stressed," said Sklar. "I had picked up the bird from across the street after we'd retrieved him, and came back and he was shaking."
Authorities say James Loper is now facing a charge of grand theft.
Presley, native to South America, costs $1,300. He's now the talk of the pet shop.
"I think he'll make somebody a great bird, because of everything now that he's been through -- it's like he appreciates life that much more," said Sklar.