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Thieves steal birds from pensioner’s aviaries in Old Hunstanton

The aviaries where Mr Smith kept his birds. Picture: Chris Bishop

The aviaries where Mr Smith kept his birds. Picture: Chris Bishop

Archant

An 84-year-old man has been left devastated after thieves stole his beloved collection of cage birds.

Cages where some of the birds lived. Picture: Chris BishopCages where some of the birds lived. Picture: Chris Bishop

Retired builder Brian Smith’s aviaries at Old Hunstanton were broken into on Sunday night.

They forced the locks on the enclosures in the rear garden of his home on Cromer Road, stealing zebra finches, Bengalese finches and quail.

“There were about 15 or 20 birds, but you don’t really know because there have been some babies there,” said Mr Smith. “They’re not that valuable, they’re worth maybe £250 if you had to buy them.

“When I bought those originally I was paying £5 for zebras and Bengalese finches. There was one canary, he might have been worth £20, maybe a bit more.”

Thieves prised a lock off a door to get into the aviaries. Picture: Chris BishopThieves prised a lock off a door to get into the aviaries. Picture: Chris Bishop

Mr Smith thinks the thieves may have been used to handling birds, as they also stole carry cases to transport them in. Neither he or his neighbours heard anything suspicious on Sunday night.

“I was out here after eight o’clock to lock up, everything was all right then,” he said. “In the morning I came up and it had happened. They prised the lock off the shed door.”

Mr Smith believes the thieves may have entered his property via a hedge at the back. He said the stress of the theft had made him think about giving up the hobby.

“A lot of the family have said you’ve got to carry on, you’ve got the aviaries,” he said. “They haven’t cost a lot, but a lot of work went into them.”

Mr Smith’s family plan to help him beef up security, installing CCTV around his aviaries.

The National Theft Register, which monitors bird thefts, says the crime is on the increase.

Its website says: “We drastically need to reduce the numbers of our birds being stolen. They are intelligent sensitive creatures and the stress of being forced into bags and boxes by thieves wearing balaclavas in the dead of night is the most cruel of criminal activity.”

Police are now investigating the theft. A spokesman said any witnesses or anyone with information should call officers on 101.

A £300 reward is being offered by letting agents Rounce and Evans for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.

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