Sunday, October 27, 2013
Hunt for £60,000 budgie smugglers after 400 birds stolen
Thieves stole more than 400 specially-bred ‘show’ budgies worth £60,000 from devastated owner Michael Freeborn (Picture: Solent)
Detectives are attempting to track down a gang of budgie smugglers who stole more than 400 birds, worth more than £60,000, from a breeder’s home.
Devastated owner Michael Freeborn, 74, spent more than 50 years building up the ‘irreplaceable’ collection.
Thieves broke into his locked aviary in Upton Crescent, Romsey, Hampshire, between 10pm on Sunday and 4.45am yesterday
He believes the gang, who cut wires to security lights before the theft, will attempt to smuggle the prize collection abroad to sell.
‘The stud value of these birds is around £60,000 and they are irreplaceable,’ he said.
‘Even if I do get them back, which is very unlikely, they will probably be too traumatised to do anything with.
‘It is possible they were stolen to order.’
The budgies were worth around £60,000 (Picture: Alamy / File)
He has kept budgies since he was 14 and began breeding them in 1963. All the stolen birds were descendants of a pair he bred from 50 years ago.
A Hampshire police spokesman said: ‘The 74-year-old victim had been building up the extensive collection of the birds for over 50 years.
‘The budgies are believed to be worth around £60,000. It’s thought the thieves escaped with the birds through a golf course which runs behind the property.
‘Officers think it is likely more than one person was involved and it would have needed a van or something or a similar-size vehicle to take the birds away.
‘All the bird have rings on their legs with serial numbers on.’
A 25-year-old Southampton man has been arrested in connection with the theft and is being questioned by police. No birds have been recovered.