The loss of a pet and friend is a heartbreaking ordeal. Last weekend, I was the victim of a theft. During the night of September 11 /12, two Lesser Sulfur Crested Cockatoos and a baby Goffin Cockatoo were stolen. Entry was gained by prying open a large solid steel security door with a top line dead bolt. The thieves had to have used considerable force and possibly had special equipment to pry open and destroy the dead bolt. The main concern for this article is that for the small sum of about $700 I could have had an alarm system. After all the years I have kept birds and the large quantity I have, this is the first time I have had a problem like this.

The thieves were definitely after the specific birds that were stolen. They removed two very tame talking Cockatoos from their cages and used those cages to transport the stolen birds. The birds in question were all in one cage. I keep asking myself why they did not take the valuable birds. Housed next to them were breeding pairs of African Greys and down the flight a little way were Scarlet Macaws, Hyacinths, Militaries, Greater Sulfer Crested, and Mollucans. All of these birds were in the same row of flights. It was very clear that they were after the three birds taken and not interested in anything else. The birds were not insured and the loss of any bird to me is heart-breaking. I have posted a $1,000 reward for the arrest of the thieves and the return of the birds.

If you have a valuable bird and don't think that it is vulnerable to this type of situation, you are in the same boat that I was. Security is a small price to pay for peace of mind. This incident has shocked me and friends of mine that have never really worried about the problem or even thought of the situation ever happening to them or this close to home. Take a close look at what you have, decide whether or not it is worth adding a little extra security, and guide yourself accordingly.

I am not saying that security would even keep a thief out of your premises. It was quite obvious that whoever broke into my aviary would have done anything to get into the building as the time and force spent on the steel door and the time getting the birds had to have totalled at least one half hour or more. The damage done was great but the damage that could have been done could have totalled into countless thousands of dollars. When I arrived at the aviary, the back door was swinging open and two tame trained Cockatoos were free, one sitting by the back door. I thought about what the thieves could have done. They could have opened all the flights and all the birds could have been loose. If it had been winter with the cold, snow, and wind blowing in, who could tell what kind of damage could have occurred.

Secure your birds. Spend the little extra to protect your investment and your friend. I have just lost three of mine. With a Little luck and the grace of God, they may be returned home in safe condition. The cost of the advertising I have done and the reward I have offered for the arrest of the thieves and the return of my Cockatoos far outweighs their value, but it is my moral obligation to protect and look out for my birds and friends. Birds are a big part of my life. On that weekend, someone stole a part of my life and I will not sit by and let them get away with it.

After the theft, I posted a reward. I bought radio advertising and a few newspaper ads. Three days passed and no word. On the third day, September 15, I got a call. "If you want your birds back be there at 8:00 and be alone." I contacted the detectives in charge of the case and they arranged a stake out to capture the thieves. I arrived at the aviary at 7 :30 and waited. Boy, that sure was a long half hour' I was expecting someone to drop in. 8:00 arrived, no one. 8:05, the phone rang and the same voice was there. "I will only say this once. Take the road to the city dump and behind the third or fourth NO DUMPING sign there will be a box with your birds.'' We got in the car and headed for the dump. After looking behind the said signs, we found nothing. A search further up the road produced nothing. On the return, lo and behold, behind the sign that we had previously checked, there was a box. It was a small cardboard box and, on inspection through a large hole in the side, I saw two baby Lesser Cockatoos and one baby Goffin.

My babies were home' But the thieves had yet to be caught. I was very relieved and happy to get my birds back but I had an awful feeling of getting even and I wanted the thieves that did this cruel thing. Understandably, the birds were in rough shape and very scared. I took them back to the aviary and put them in their old flight. It didn't take them long to calm down. They were home!

I had offered a $1,000 reward for the arrest of the persons involved. I had my birds back but l wanted the thieves. I had another two days of radio advertising paid for so decided to continue the ads. I bought a spot in the next paper to continue to offer the reward for the arrest of the persons who stole the Cockatoos and did the damage at the aviary.

Rewards do pay off. If this ever happens again, I will, without hesitation offer a large reward. I will not sit by and let someone unjustly steal and deprive me of what is rightfully mine. I hope that anyone and everyone who reads this will feel the same way. If you are a victim of a crime, maybe if the reward is large enough and people get scared, this will al! stop. We can only hope. If anyone out there has had this happen, I would suggest after contacting the police, give swift prompt...