Updated:MARION COUNTY, Fla. —
Members of a family in Marion County had hoped breeding pigeons would help support them in their retirement, but Tuesday they discovered someone had targeted their farm in Summerfield, stealing 800 of the pure-white birds.
Alberto Morales said he also discovered about 100 dead baby pigeons inside the coop.
Morales said he thinks someone drove through his neighbor's open field, which leads to the back of the coop.
Morales said he raised pigeons to sell, and the pigeons, which were valued at $18,000, are usually used for recreational purposes.
He also said that he believes the unknown person(s) who stole his pigeons would have to have known their value and where to sell them.
Morales and his wife, Maria, have been raising the flock of homing and messenger pigeons for years.
“If you can find the white homers, they run between $14 and $18 per bird. So times 800, it’s huge,” Maria said.
Investigators believe the burglars probably came through a driveway in the back of the coop.
“It had to have been an attack at night. There are no lights, there are no neighbors,” Alberto said.
The couple believes they may have been targeted by someone they know or have done business with, and it’s a loss they never imagined.
“Somebody coming in here, stealing that many birds in the night? No. Never could I have imagined,” Alberto said.
Because the stolen birds were breeders, the family will lose out on up to four breedings this year making the value of the theft close to $40,000.