PINEVILLE, N.C. -- Two feathered friends, Jasmine and Emmy, are safely back home after harrowing adventures on the black market.
Just before closing time on Nov. 12, two thieves snatched the owner-surrendered Moluccan cockatoo and umbrella cockatoo from Companion Parrots Rehomed in Pineville.
Store owner Karen Cheek Justice and others affiliated with the parrot rescue organization were devastated.
“We didn’t know where the birds were or what was going to happen to them. We didn’t know if they would be taken care of or what the thieves were going to do,” Justice said.
When CPR takes in a bird, it does its best to ensure the bird is in good health and placed in a good home. CPR takes in birds when owners give them up or when they’ve been rescued from bad living conditions. People working with CPR felt they had betrayed Jasmine and Emmy, and their former owners.
They called police and spread the word through social media. Volunteers in four states monitored Craigslistads and visited bird marts, bird expos and flea markets.
In mid December, Jasmine was recovered from a bird expo outside Winston Salem, thanks to an alert volunteer. The bird had been sold by the thief to a dealer, sold by that dealer to a customer, then re-purchased by the dealer when he realized he’d sold a stolen bird.
Justice and CPR volunteer Debbie Foster brought Jasmine back home, but Emmy was still missing.
Two weeks ago, almost four months after the birds disappeared, Justice received a letter marked “bird theft info.” Inside she found the address, Facebook page, and other information about the thieves.
Police and Justice tracked Emmy to Georgia. The bird was living with a family not far from Atlanta.
“The family bought her off Craigslist in early December and had no idea they were harboring a stolen bird. Emmy has since become a part of their family, and they want to adopt her legally,” Justice said.
Emmy’s now temporarily back in Charlotte being vetted and quarantined to make sure she doesn’t have health problems. The family plans to spend a weekend in Charlotte to take the required bird classes before taking her home for good.
Justice has agreed not to prosecute the thieves because the birds are safe, but says CPR is taking extra precautions to guard against future thefts.
“We are going to microchip each of our birds so they can be positively identified. And customers will now have only limited access to the retail floor so that we can better control the crowd,” Justice said.
Though she says the whole experience was a nightmare, there was an upside.
“Since the theft, more folks have heard about us and are dropping by,” Justice said. “Adoptions are up, the retail business is up, and we have expanded into space next door so that we now have a real classroom. Plus, Emmy has a wonderful new home.”