MENIFEE (CNS) - A search was continuing today for the thieves who stole four birds worth an estimated $2,000 from a Menifee bird store -- the third time this year the same shop has been victimized. The theft occurred around 11:15 a.m. Dec. 4 at Birds-N-Paradise in the 27000 block of Encanto Drive.
Lori Lister, the owner of the store, released surveillance footage on social media that she said shows the bird snatchers in action. The culprits made off with a stella lorikeet and three baby parrots, she said. In all, she believes five people were involved in the theft -- a man, two women and two children. In one of the videos she posted, two boys appear to pull birds out of a terrarium before walking out of frame.
Lister said that after she posted the videos, she received ``hundreds of phone calls and messages'' from people with tips that she passed on to law enforcement.``It's a big deal. It's not just a couple birds, it's a couple of lives,'' Lister said. Because the stolen birds require special care -- the stella lorikeet needs to be on a nectar-only diet and had surgery a few days before being stolen -- Lister fears that some may not be alive anymore.
Lister said the thieves did buy a cage, though she suspects they stole other products in addition to the birds.
This is the third time this year that the store has been targeted by thieves. On March 16, burglars broke into the store and stole six birds worth nearly $9,000. A few days later, a six-week-old parrot was swiped.
The store is equipped with dozens of security cameras and has a guard dog, though Lister said she may begin requiring customers to check in with an ID card before entering.``I used my mortgage money to buy those baby parrotlets,'' Lister said.
She said the store had been struggling financially even before the most recent theft, though she was heartened by the customers who had come in to buy something after hearing the news.``I'm not going to let these criminals get away with it because they'll keep coming back,'' Lister said.
The Riverside County Sheriff's Department was investigating, and asked anyone with information on the theft to call their Perris station at (951) 210-1000.