POLICE in Scarborough are hunting thieves who smashed their way into a pigeon loft and stole a flock of award-winning birds.
The incident was at allotments in Johno’s Field in Barrowcliff overnight on Monday.
A North Yorkshire Police spokesman said that 11 birds were taken during the raid and that six private pigeon lofts were broken into.
Officers are also investigating a similar incident on Monday, February 28, when seven racing pigeons and two pigeon baskets were stolen from a hut at the Prospect Mount allotments.
PC Sarah Margetts, of Scarborough Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: “These thefts are devastating for the victims who have spent a great deal of their time training the birds for competitions which they will no longer be able to compete in this season.
“I am appealing for information from anyone who knows who has stolen the pigeons or who may have seen or heard anything on the night they were taken.
“I am also appealing to anyone who is offered any racing pigeons for sale to contact the police or Crimestoppers with information.”
When the Evening News visited the isolated and exposed site yesterday one 73-year-old pigeon fancier, who would not give his name, said he had lost eight male birds and two racing baskets in one of the raids.
He added: “They were sitting on eggs, ready to hatch, but they did not hatch. The police have been, which is good, but what can they do? There are no witnesses and no one saw anything. If the kids come again that will be it for me. I am too old. It’s killed my season – it’s finished.”
Cllr Bill Chatt, who represents Barrowcliff area for Scarborough Council, described the series of crimes as “mindless”.
He added: “It’s a regular thing, it’s been going on for years. There are people up there who keep chickens. These crimes are just mindless as far as I am concerned.
“The people who have the allotments take really great care of then. They don’t bother anybody. The people that are doing this should be caught.”
He added that the problem could be solved by giving youngsters more to do so that they were not just hanging around. He said: “The devil makes work for idle hands.
“The more we can engage with them the better off the estate will be and the better off the kids will be as well.”
Cllr Chatt said that projects, such as a proposed BMX track in Barrowcliff, would be good for the area. He said: “If we give them something to do then they will be occupied.”
Anyone with any information about the spate of thefts is urged to contact Scarborough Police on 0845 6060247.
l The owner of the prize pigeons stolen on Monday is offering a £50 reward for any information leading to the conviction of the people responsible for the theft.