A top bird breeder today called in the ‘Flying Squad’ and offered a £200 reward as part of a desperate nationwide public appeal to trace his missing – BUDGIES.
Andrew Pooley, 58, hired a retired police officer who is now the UK’s leading ‘pet detective’ to help trace 21 beloved birds stolen in a bloody night-time raid.
He was devastated when thieves broke into his aviary the night before a top show and STAMPED his champion ‘best of breed’ budgie Penmead Pride to death before stealing the other birds.
Jealous breeders, envious of his impressive £2,000 collection of prize birds, are thought to be behind the theft and ‘budgie-cide’ at his home in Delabole, Cornwall in August.
Andrew today made a desperate appeal through a specially arranged press conference to trace the feathered fiend responsible.
He unveiled his biggest weapon in tracking the culprits down – John Hayward, a retired detective with Thames Valley police, who is now Britain’s leading private pet investigator.
John vowed to leave no stone unturned in his bid to track the criminals, who he believes are local and known to Andrew.
John warned: ”I only need one phone call, anonymous or otherwise. Someone somewhere has the information we require
”A third party, or family member, must know something, you can’t hide birds and there has been a high degree of calculation involved.”
Andrew, who is secretary of the Caged Bird Society, told assembled journalists yesterday: ”Penmead Pride was my first ever champion. He won the best in breed this time last year.
”I can remember feeling so proud because it was only a baby at that time. I just can’t believe that someone would stamp on my champion bird.
”I don’t want to believe it. I am so angry that if I ever got my hands on the person that did it – I would stamp on them.
”When you step into the aviary all the birds start flying around so the death could have been an accident.
”I can’t face going back into the aviary now as everytime I do I think about what happened and another bird seems to have died from the shock everyday.
”I am never going to give up finding them. All I want is for whoever is responsible to ring me up and tell me where they are, I will pick them up from anyway.
”Even if they are dead I will come and pick up their carcasses.”
Former quarry worker Andrew breeds multicoloured budgies, known as recessive pieds, and keeps them in his shed in a specially-but aviary.
The attack happened on August 20 as Andrew, a leading budgie expert, prepared his birds for the Cornwall Budgerigar Show.
He went to the shed at 9:45pm to discover the uninsured birds missing and Penmead Pride along with two others birds stamped to death, although 60 others were left untouched.
The Budgerigar Society said they thought the 21 birds had probably been smuggled out the country and sold to a foreign dealer.
They put him in touch with John Hayward, who works on their behalf tracking down stolen rare birds.
John, who is also co-ordinator of the National Theft Register for exotic animals, has canvassed the local bird community and made 600 door-to-door enquiries, leaflet and poster drops.
He said: ”We believe it is someone from the local bird keeping community as they knew exactly which birds to target. They took the 21 best out of 60 birds and left the others.
”Mr Pooley had been at a big show in Torquay the week before and won a lot of prizes so we think it could be a jealous rival.
”We are concentrating our investigations around North Cornwall as we think the birds are still in the area.”
Andrew has bred budgies for 40 years and Penmead Pride was his first champion after he won top prize at the show in 2009.
He added: ”Even if I had the money to replace the birds that have now gone I couldn’t, it has been a lifetimes work which is why I am so devastated.
”I have worked and worked and worked for those birds.
”The most painful thing is that I was probably sat ten feet away from the aviary in my kitchen reading the paper at the time and I had no idea.
”If they knew what they were doing they would have come with cages to put them in and escape quickly.”
Devon and Cornwall Police are investigating the crime and believe the culprit is from ”the bird keeping community”.