© St. Petersburg Times, published October 26, 2002
TAMPA -- Whoever smashed out the glass front door of the Petland store in Town 'N Country knew exactly what they wanted -- pretty parrots that cost a lot of money.
A robber broke into the store at 7699 W Waters Ave., and made off with seven exotic parrots sometime between 2:30 and 2:50 a.m. Friday, store manager Nicholas Peters said. The perpetrator and birds were gone before a sheriff's deputy responded to the alarm.
"Every bird out of here," Peters said, gesturing to an empty bird cage. "Gone."
Taken in the theft were macaws, African grays, an eclectus, a caique, and Amazons all ranging in value from $500 to $2,000 apiece, Peters said.
"Some could consider them valuable, they have a dollar amount," he said. "But the biggest thing is they're babies." The parrots ranged in age from 15 weeks to several months old.
At that age, Peters said, the parrots require special diets and supplements, and the youngest birds are still on hand-fed formula.
"Whoever took these birds needs to know they have special diets and can get sick," Peters said. "One of them even had a broken neck. We'd nursed her back to health. We'd bonded with that one."
Petland workers checked the bird food supply when they discovered the robbery Friday morning, hoping the robber had swiped some of the specialty feed. But nothing else was gone. "This was somebody who was looking for birds," Peters said. "We have $3,000 dogs but they didn't take any dogs. They were targeting specific birds. These birds are friendly. You can just pick them up and walk out."
Peters said Petland will offer a $1,000 reward for information that leads to the parrots' return.
"If somebody wants to bring the birds back, they can call us and tell us where to pick them up," Peters said. "Or they can take them to an animal shelter or a vet. I just want to get the birds back and make sure they're healthy. We spend a lot of time with these guys to make sure they're happy. So something like this hits real close to your heart."
Anyone with information about the missing parrots can call the store at 813-249-1170.
-- Logan D. Mabe can be reached at 269-5304 or at email@example.com