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Police: $800 bird stolen from Va. Beach store
[November 14, 2012]

Police: $800 bird stolen from Va. Beach store

Nov 14, 2012 (The Virginian-Pilot - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- VIRGINIA BEACH -- At only four months old, a white-bellied caique for sale at the Animal Jungle had already developed a group of loyal fans.

A husband, wife and their children had paid to adopt the rare bird, which caretakers were still feeding by hand at the pet store. In about a month, the caique would be ready to go home, said Sarah Gili, the store's bird manager.

But it seems someone else had their eye on the bird, too. On Oct. 14, police said a store employee found the bird missing.

A store manager reviewed surveillance footage and noticed two people had been in the room the night before, a few hours before closing.

The Medium Parrot Room had become a crime scene.

A month later, police aere still searching for the thieves. They released images from surveillance footage showing a man and a woman entering the store after dark and asked for the public's help identifying the alleged bird-nappers.

Of all the birds in the store, the caique was likely one of the easiest to steal, Gili said. The parrot was only 7 1/2 to 8 inches tall with a green belly and a few black spots on the head. It wasn't likely to scratch or bite, she said, and it was too young to talk.

"When they're this young they all like to be snuggled," she said, picking up a white and orange cockatoo in the Medium Parrot Room and holding it close to her chest.

Gili, who has seen the surveillance video, said she believes the woman pictured in the footage was likely going after the cockatoo. But it appears that when the caique started paying more attention to her, she took that bird instead, Gili said.

In the video, Gili said, the woman leaves the Medium Bird Room, walks up and down two aisles and then leaves the store. The man shown in the video picked up a bag of bird food, which he paid for using cash, she said.

When Gili called the family who had bought the bird to tell them what had happened, the wife was distraught, she said. The family had been visiting their new parrot at the pet store while they waited to take it home.

Gili said that each year the store only gets a few caiques, which come from breeders in Florida.

Animal Jungle hopes the parrot will be returned. But if it's gone for good, Gili said she hopes it wasn't stolen just to be re-sold.

"I'm hoping they took it to keep it as a pet," she said. "They're just really good birds." ___ (c)2012 The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.) Visit The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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