By MATT DEES
© St. Petersburg Times, published July 21, 2000
ST. PETERSBURG -- Many bird owners view their winged companions as more than just pets.
Some even refer to their birds as "fids," short for "feathered kids," which signifies their status as full-fledged family members.
So it is no surprise that Debra Simpson gushes when she talks about the return of her prized African Grey parrot, Mollie, who was stolen a week ago.
"It was an unbelievable reunion. She was like Play-Doh," said Simpson, 43, who lives on 35th Avenue N, referring to the cuddle she and her pet shared upon the 6-year-old bird's return.
Simpson reported Mollie stolen Friday. Late Tuesday night, police received an anonymous phone call that led them to the home of 21-year-old Cindar McDonald and her 16-year-old brother.
The tipster reported hearing something screeching "peekaboo." Simpson confirmed that this was one of Mollie's expressions and, sure enough, police found Mollie at the 50th Avenue N house. The two were taken into custody and charged with residential burglary in the theft of Mollie, a bottle of detergent and a hat box from Simpson's home, said St. Petersburg police Detective Tom Collier. They also face a commercial burglary charge in the theft of lawn statues from Art Stone Co. Inc. on Tyrone Boulevard. The detective said the two suspects are down on their luck. Cindar McDonald is pregnant, had just lost her job and was falling into debt. "They were needing money and didn't know what to do," Collier said.
The McDonalds told police they were looking for money and jewelry, not valuable parrots, and intended to return the bird, police said.
But Simpson harbors little sympathy.
"This is a horrible thing that someone can break into your house and steal a family member," she said.
Simpson did concede, though, that Mollie herself likely would show mercy. "It may sound silly, but Mollie would probably have a big heart with them."