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Thieves targeting exotic birds
THIEVES are targeting high-value show birds in Hampshire, the Daily Echo can reveal.
Specially bred birds have been stolen in a number of break-ins in the past six months, including three in Southampton.
Now six pet parrots worth up to £4,500 have been stolen from their aviary near Romsey.
Hampshire bird breeders are being warned to be on their guard by the National Theft Register for Exotic Animals.
Coordinator John Hayward said it had seen an unusually large number of high-value bird thefts nationally – including three in Southampton, one in Eastleigh and now the one near Romsey, which could all be linked.
Two macaws and two pairs of African greys were snatched overnight from the Hansard Pet Centre, in Awbridge.
Some of the birds had been sitting on eggs, so it is likely the chicks inside will now die. The thieves broke padlocks to gain access.
Owner Diane Sutton, 45, who runs the pet centre with brother Nick Orchard, 49, has had some of the birds for 20 years and handreared one of the macaws.
“I feel empty,” she said. “You can hear them all day.
“Today there’s nothing. The aviaries are empty. I don’t think we’ll see them again.”
Charlie, a blue-and-gold macaw, and Bobby, a green-winged macaw, are worth about £1,250 each. The African greys are worth around £500 each.
They were kept in aviaries in the yard for customers to go and see but were not for sale – the shop only sells pet supplies.
Thieves are thought to have struck on Tuesday between 11.30pm and 11.45pm. Rewards have been offered for the return of the parrots and any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the thieves.
Other birds stolen locally include exhibition canaries, finches and budgerigars, with a value in each case of up to £5,000.
“For specialist breed thefts to happen in the same town or city within a fairly short period of time, the area is being targeted specifically,” said Mr Hayward.
He urged bird keepers to remain vigilant.
l Anyone with information about the parrot theft should call Rupert Murray-Twinn at Romsey police station on 101.