Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal
A screeching macaw. A flapping red wing.
That was the last employees of a local pet store saw of their winged friends after they say two men walked into the shop Saturday evening and sprinted out with two pricey parrots under their jackets.
Terri Hallberg, the owner of Petland pet store, said the men stole a scarlet macaw worth $2,800 and a smaller bird – a Timneh African grey – that is worth $2,200.
“That’s the most expensive bird we’ve ever had,” Hallberg said, about the macaw. “There are less of them being bred every year.”
News of the thefts ricocheted around social media over the weekend and the original Facebook post has now been shared more than 11,000 times all over the country.
An Albuquerque Police Department spokesman said he has not been told about any leads or movement in the case Monday. No arrests have been made.
But Hallberg said she has a theory. She said the men were dressed with long jackets and gloves and appeared to know the layout of the store, suggesting they had planned the heist in advance.
“We’re figuring, knowing the way the world is, that they probably already had a buyer,” she said. “They probably already had a plan. The birds are worth $2,800 and $2,200 but maybe they turned them for $400 or $500 bucks. They probably got very little for them.”
It was around 6:30 p.m. Saturday and customers, children and employees were milling about playing with rabbits and ferrets when surveillance video shows two men striding in through the front doors of the shop on Paseo del Norte near Louisiana NE. The men headed straight for the back of the store, and that’s when, seconds later, employee Terry Goodman spotted them by the bird cages.
“I came out of the back room here and saw a man in a jacket reaching in here and taking a bird right into his jacket,” Goodman said. “I screamed ‘NO!’ and he closed that jacket. Behind him I could see the macaw and a red wing and I heard that screech as this man was grabbing him.”
Goodman said she chased the men as they ran out of the store, trailed by several employees and worried customers. Then, she said, the men jumped into a red Chevrolet Camaro with no license plate with a driver idling outside the shop and they sped away.
Hallberg said she is devastated over the loss and worried for the safety and well-being of the parrots. She said if the birds escape or are left outside overnight, they will not survive the cold temperatures.
Both the macaw, which came from Florida, and the African grey, from Texas, are seven months old and have been trained to be easy to handle and responsive to people.
“Where do you put a bird that’s very agitated, very upset?” she said. “Twenty-four hours without any water and they’re very dehydrated. So hopefully someone got it in a situation where it can resettle itself with food and water.”
It’s not the first bird theft at Petland since the store opened six years ago.
Hallberg said last March a man stole a smaller bird, worth $750. No arrests were made in that case, and the bird was never found.
She said she hopes for a better outcome in Saturday’s case.
“I’m afraid the birds are already gone,” Hallberg said. “It would be nice if they get in trouble for it though.”