HOUSTON – Five exotic birds were stolen from two specialty bird stores in the Greater Houston area over the past few weeks.
Loyal customers are offering rewards for information on what may be the same thief.
Surveillance cameras at Adventures in Birds in Spring Branch and ABC Birds in Humble captured images of a heavyset thief wearing a hat, carrying a crowbar and driving a dark-colored pickup truck.
Both crimes, committed three weeks apart, occurred around 2 a.m. on a Monday morning. In both cases, the thief's face is not clearly visible. At Adventures in Birds, the crowbar-carrying thief had an accomplice.
"I just can’t tell you how sad I was," said ABC Birds owner Jamie Whittaker, who started breeding exotic birds 30 years ago. "They are living, breathing creatures who depend on us, and who(m) we actually have feelings for, (whom) we love."
Loyal customers and friends have offered a combined $1,200 for information leading to an arrest and conviction of the ABC Birds thief. A $2,200 reward is offered in the Adventures in Birds case.
"(It's) just personal, honestly," said James Martin, Whittaker's grandson, who hand-feeds the birds every day. "It hurts. Like, it's -- I feel like a friend has been taken, you know?"
The three missing pets from ABC Birds include Lucy, a cockatoo with a skin condition. Police rescued the bird in a raid a decade ago. Martin and Whittaker have taken care of her ever since.
At Adventures in Birds, on Sept. 10, two thieves stole two parrots. The family dog escaped during the break-in and was hit and killed by a car.
If you recognize the thief or the pickup truck, contact Adventures in Birds and ABC Birds on Facebook, and contact police.