Inland Empire shop owners say they see rise in bird thefts across SoCal

MENIFEE, Calif. (KABC) -- It's been a tough month for Birds-n-Paradise - the bird shop has been hit twice by thieves.

On March 20, a surveillance camera captured a woman and two children entering the store. The woman is seen stashing a Blue Indian Ringneck in her purse before walking out the door.

The Riverside County Sheriff's Department identified the woman as Harmony Mejia, of Perris. She is facing prosecution.

Four days earlier, half-a-dozen birds were taken in an early morning burglary.

"Four men came in, broke in through our side window and were in and out in less than two minutes," said Lori Lister, Birds-n-Paradise owner.

Lister believes the thefts are part of a string of recent break-ins at bird shops across Southern California.

"Birds are high-dollar, They're easy turnaround. They will usually offer them for about half of what we would sell them for," she said.

Bracken's Bird Farm in Redlands was also hit during a break-in on March 9. In that instance, three African grey parrots were taken. The birds are personal pets of the farm's employees.

"We were ready to take them home because the bird farm is closing, and we will never forgive ourselves for not taking them home the day before," Lu Worman said.

She and another employee are offering a total of $6,000 for the birds' safe return. They are also willing to buy the birds back if they have been sold.

Worman believes their theft is related to several other shops that have been hit by thieves.

"It feels like it would be a group of people who just decided to cash out on this particular inventory," Worman said.

To date, six Southern California shop owners are offering an additional $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible.

Anyone with information should contact local authorities.
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