Cage robbers cashing in

POLICE are warning breeders of exotic birds to be on the lookout for thieves.

Kellyville Pets is offering a reward for the return of two baby macaws that were stolen from the store last week.

Employees arrived at work on Thursday morning to find their prized $7000 birds missing after two thieves broke in to their locked aviary and stole them.

And thefts of this kind are on the rise in the area.

Avid bird raiser Dawn Edwards was devastated when 10 eclectus parrots were stolen from her Kenthurst home last year.

Kellyville Pets bird room supervisor Jake Lawson said the blue and yellow macaws were one of four sought-after bird breeds on the black market.

"It's highly likely the birds have already been sold on," Mr Lawson said.

"Usually when birds are stolen like this the thieves already have a buyer lined up."

At $7000 each, the South American macaws are one of the most valuable birds on the black market, as are black cockatoos, Solomon Islands red sided eclectus and African grey parrots.

Mr Lawson said thieves are "getting cocky" and studying their targets before robbing them.

"I'd encourage people not to put any bird photos on Facebook and clean the cages yourself instead of hiring a cleaner," Mr Lawson said.

Castle Hill police are warning buyers to check for theft before purchasing any exotic bird.

"We've been searching websites like Gumtree and the Trading Post where stolen items are sometimes advertised," crime manager Detective Inspector Gary Bailey said.

Two of Ms Edwards' parrots were recovered months later but a baby that was left behind died from stress.

On Australia Day she had two more eclectus parrots and two hand-raised galahs stolen from the cages at her home.

The birds are worth about $1000 each, but Ms Edwards said the value is irrelevant to her.

"My birds weren't for sale, they were loved and priceless — I wouldn't take $100,000 for them.

"People don't understand that not everything has a price tag."

Ms Edwards said thieves were taking the birds and advertising them on the internet for less than half their commercial value.

"I really don't know what we can do about it, especially if buyers are just looking to get them as cheap as possible," Ms Edwards said.

"We can't stay at home 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to make sure they're safe.

"But hopefully making people aware that it's happening can eventually stop it."

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