Police are hunting poachers who stole eggs from a chicken coop – BENEATH a brooding bantam.
The fowl play was discovered when owner Gavin Bale made his twice-daily check on his hens.
He looked under brooding Izzy and was astonished to find five eggs had been snatched from underneath her.
Gavin, 31, and wife Tracey have now called in police in the hope they can crack the mystery in Shepton Mallet, Somerset.
Hotel worker Tracey, 41, said: “My husband came home and said ‘someone has pinched the eggs from under the bloody bantam’.
“I’ve never heard of something like this, especially not in Shepton Mallet.
“They are quite lucky that Izzy is a quiet bantam because most brooding bantams would have give a good peck.”
Warehouse worker Gavin and Tracey have raised chickens their whole life and currently keep their 30 or so birds on land in Coombe Lane, away from their Bowlish home.
They say eggs have been going missing from the nests in the coop for a couple of months.
But this is the first time they have disappeared right from under a sitting chicken.
Tracey, a hotel housekeeper, added: “It started two or three months ago when someone started pinching a few eggs now and then.
“We didn’t think nothing of it because if it was someone feeding themselves, we don’t mind.
“We would know how many to expect, and there would be a few missing every now and again.
“But I was so mad to find that they’d been taken from under a sitting hen, it’s ridiculous.
“Luckily she has re-sat and she took to them so she will have some chicks.”
The Bales don’t sell their eggs but instead eat them themselves or give them away to friends.
They are sure the thief is human, not animal, since there were no broken shells and the animals were not disturbed.
Izzy belongs to Tracey’s daughter Charlie-Ann Tucker, 14, and brooding hens can be aggressive.
Tracey added: “Whoever it was that took the eggs was brave, and knew what they were doing.”
Since the incident the Bales have asked friends who live on Coombe Lane to keep an eye out and have moved some of their sitting hens into their garden for the time being.
Police Inspector Mark Nicholson said: “We are interested in any crime, however big or small it is, because we fully understand and appreciate that crime effects people in different ways.
Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101.