This was post was prompted by an attempted break in at Chet’s house recently. Fortunately, the alarm at his house, among other things, thwarted the attempt. I’d love to blame these things on the economy and desperate people, but sadly, the fact is that it has always been a problem, regardless of the times. We have birds, many of them expensive, and people who are aware of this fact might try to steal and resell them on the streets for a fast buck. I compiled a list of tips to help keep you and your flock safe from robbery:
NEVER advertise that you have parrots.
I know it’s fun to share your love for your birds with strangers who are always fascinated by them, but it is a bad idea. People know that parrots are expensive and they often assume that people with parrots have money. It makes sense to them that if you have the money for these birds, you will also have other expensive things in your home, like electronics. I have been asked many times how much my birds cost, which sends up red flags immediately. I give one of two answers: 1) “This bird?? OMG! Someone should pay ME to keep this bird, he SO mean! Wanna see my scars??”, or 2) “How much did he cost?? NOTHING compared to what it costs to keep him!”
Form a neighborhood watch group with your immediate neighbors.
Make an agreement with them that you should all be watchful of suspicious activities in the neighborhood. Make them understand that under NO circumstances would there be cause for anyone to remove your parrot without your presence. Introduce them to a trusted friend or family member who will be responsible for their care in the event of an accident, who may come and go with them. In return, you will watch their homes.
Secure your home.
Engage all of your locks and security alarm especially when you are away from home. Be sure to post a sign out front announcing that your home is protected by whatever security company you are using.
Even if they aren’t real. The Womach’s home, here in Florida, is surrounded by cameras which feed into a monitor and recording system inside the home. This can be a huge deterrent to a would-be burglar.
A fake camera, which is basically just the outer shell of a very real looking camera, can have just as powerful an effect, since there’s no way to tell the difference.
Check out places like this one for info about real and phony security systems. I have a friend who had a number of plaques professionally made that are mounted at every possible point of entry to her home, windows and doors. They say: Smile, you’re on camera!” and list a fake security company along with their fake phone and website info. She’s never had a break in.
IF YOUR PARROTS ARE STOLEN: Don’t delay in getting the word out there!!
- File a detailed police report. While it is unlikely they will find, or even look for a bird thief, this step can be very important in obtaining your bird if the thief is caught.
- Contact online parrot forums, explain what has happened and ask them to help by cross posting. Bird people get really grumpy when this happens and I have seen people go WAY out of their way to try to help. These forums reach people all over the world and certainly there will be some from your general area who will get wind of this and will offer suggestions and hope.
- Contact 911 Parrot Alert to make a parrot amber alert.
- Make as many people aware of your situation as possible. Post fliers, write a letter to your local newspaper, call local radio stations, contact local vets, humane societies, animal shelters and rescues. Place an ad in the paper and on Craigslist.com. Ask for people to watch for anyone selling birds of your species, usually for insanely low prices.
- Check ads on craigslist.com and your papers for anyone selling parrots that fit your description, as well as found ads – everyday!
- Check for ads in neighboring states. Because people are learning to cover their bases locally, animal thieves often try to sell them out of state so as not to arouse suspicion. Find shelters and local organizations there who will keep an eye out for your birds.
The key to successfully finding your parrot is to cover as many bases as possible by creating an awareness of your situation. By telling everyone what has happened, you are adding additional eyes and ears to your search. However, prevention is always the best medicine.
Author Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.