Horse-and-cart gang leaves family sick as a parrot
Owner says the brazen theft of Suzie was a ‘hit’ as security footage shows bird-nappers in action
The police flying squad is on the case after a horse-drawn cart was used as a getaway vehicle by parrot thieves.
Mark Lock, owner of the stolen African grey, said the thieves were likely to be bearing the scars of their encounter with Suzie.
“Only myself and my son can handle her,” he said. “She will have attacked and bitten them as they tried to remove her from her cage.”
Video footage from security cameras shows three men pulling up to the Lock family’s home in Plumstead, Cape Town, last Thursday afternoon.
“Suzie has lived on our stoep for 13 years, day and night. I think this was a ‘hit’, and that she was stolen to order,” said Lock.
“There’s a trailer in the driveway and other valuable things they could have stolen, but all they took was Suzie. They even left her cage.”
The getaway driver stayed on the cart while his two accomplices went to either side of the Locks’ sliding gate in Chudleigh Road.
“One lifted the gate off the rail and the other pushed it open,” said Lock. “The one that pushed the gate chased away my two dogs.”
After taking Suzie from her cage, the men made their getaway on the horse and cart – and now large parts of Cape Town’s southern suburbs are on the lookout for them after news of the theft went viral on social media.
Lock said the Cart Horse Protection Association had been asked if it could identify the cart, but it appeared to be unregistered.
The association said on Facebook: “We are acutely aware of this situation and we are working together with SAPS to try and catch these suspects.
“Our patrol and call-out officer is on it! Unfortunately, the horses and drivers are not very clearly visible and so far we have not been able to identify them.”
Police said anyone with information about the theft should call Diep River police station on 021-710-7300 or Detective Sergeant Shaun Lawrence.
On Facebook, Gillian Faichnie said: “These are the guys who broke into our neighbour’s house last week for the second time. One of them came to my door saying that they were ‘Alan from next door’. They are dangerous and need to be apprehended.”
Jackie Ruppersberg said the cart used in the theft operated in the Plumstead and Wynberg areas, where it was used to collect scrap metal. Lock said he had been told the men on the cart used a recognisable call for scrap metal as they toured residential streets.
Carmè Freese said the thieves often used the same method. “They went onto my parents’ property in Wynberg, broke down the lane gate, went into the yard and stole a bath,” she said.
“Because they were so bold, the neighbour thought that they were there with my parents’ permission. They even waved goodbye to the neighbour. They've been doing this for a number of years.”
Lock said Suzie, who has a distinctive white stripe on her beak, was worth about R4,000, adding that the value was relatively high because she was talkative.
“She calls my name. My wife coughs a lot, so the bird coughs. She also copies my daughter’s sneezes,” he said.
“And she tells our two dogs, ‘In your box’.”