A couple have issued a warning to other bird owners in Northampton after thieves stole a whole aviary full of canaries, sparrows and finches in an overnight raid.
Marion Minney, who lives in Irondale Close, Briar Hill, with her husband,Peter, believes an organised gang was behind the theft of 22 birds from the aviary by the side of her property.
The theft took place sometime between 7.30pm on Sunday night and 6am on Monday.
Mrs Minney said: “Whoever committed the robbery knew what they were doing. They knocked over perches and used a net to catch all the birds. My husband, who is blind, really enjoyed the lovely singing by the canaries. We are pensioners and we love looking after them. We have had them since they were babies and some of them used to perch on your hand.”
Mrs Minney said it was unlikely the birds, worth an estimated £500, would ever be found, but wanted to warn other bird owners they need to secure their aviaries.
She said: “Looking after the birds is a hobby for us and we didn’t lock them up. Many other elderly people keep birds and we want to warn them they could be targeted by this organised group.”
John Hayward, who has compiled a National Bird Theft Register, said people needed to “seriously step up security” around their aviaries as there had been hundreds of bird thefts across the country in the past year.
Mr Hayward said: “For the past year or so we have been compiling a list of a number of thefts of small exhibition birds which are occurring predominantly across the Midlands area. We suspect the majority of these thefts are being carried out by a specific team who are moving through the area and targeting aviaries and birdhouses.”
Mr Hayward said some of the most exotic birds would fetch large amounts of money and it was suspected the stolen birds were being sold on to breeders in Europe.
Mr Hayward said: “The longer these thieves get away with it the longer they will persist. The welfare of these birds is a major concern.”