Twin Cities pigeon thieves tough to track - FOX 35 News Orlando

Twin Cities pigeon thieves tough to track

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

Pigeon snatching is emerging into somewhat of a sport for thieves in the Twin Cities, and even amid increasing theft reports, it's hard for officials to track them down.

The number of recent thefts is worrying local racing clubs and pigeon owners whose prized birds are big-buck attractions.

Fox 9 spoke with John Kaiyalethe three weeks ago after about $20,000 worth of racing pigeons were stolen from the pigeon coop or "loft" that he shares with his brother Philip. There's still no sign of their birds as they continue learn about more thefts.

The latest theft hit St. Paul late Tuesday or early Wednesday when someone broke into a pigeon loft and took off with 30 birds valued about $1,000 total. It's thought that thieves are using the birds to breed, and either race themselves or sell overseas.

"I think racing as a whole has taken a whole leap recently because there's been a lot of younger people interested. Taiwan and China have taken a big step in pigeon racing and that drove up the price of racing pigeons," John Kaiyalethe said.

Pigeon racing is a huge sport worldwide. There's big money to be won –potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars. The purses can be over $1 million dollars overseas, a globally popular race is called the Sun City Million Dollar Race in South Africa.

Officials don't think birds stolen from St. Paul would be used in local races because they'd just fly home, that's why they suspect they're used for breeding, which makes it difficult to track down the thieves.

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