Worried about how to protect your seaside chips from pesky seagulls? Scientists believe the answer lies in an old-fashioned stare down. The would-be feathered thieves are more likely to strike when they can swoop in under the radar, avoiding the gaze of their victims, researchers say. Staring at the birds makes them less likely to steal your food, according to the new study. University of Exeter researchers put a bag of chips on the ground and tested how long it took herring gulls to approach when someone was watching them. They compared this to how long it took when the person looked away. On average the gulls took 21 seconds longer to approach the food they often cheekily swipe from unsuspecting snackers while they were being stared at.