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Port Richey man charged in attempted bird theft

By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 4, 2000

PORT RICHEY -- A 41-year-old man was charged with attempted grand theft and cruelty to animals after he tried to steal three baby birds from a pet store in April.

James Gregory Smith of 9110 Crabtree Lane, Port Richey, put three Congo African gray birds in a pillowcase and tried to walk out of the Exotic Pet Center without paying on April 17, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.

The assistant manager of the store heard the birds squawk, and she chased the man to the front door and grabbed the back of his shirt, officers said.

The man threw the pillowcase down and ran out the door to a waiting car, authorities said. A 4-year-old child was in the car while Smith tried to grab the birds, deputies said. The birds, which were not injured, are worth about $2,300. Smith was also charged Monday with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and resisting arrest without violence.

He was booked into the county jail in Land O'Lakes and was released Monday on $11,500 bail.

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