PRIZE-WINNING canaries stolen from an aviary could have been snatched by bird enthusiasts.
Police say they are investigating the theory that fellow bird fanciers are behind the theft of 13 show birds.
The canaries were taken from an aviary in Roy Severn's back garden on Tuesday night.
Mr Severn is well known for his prize-winning birds, which are worth up to £200 per pair, and which he shows around the region.
He agrees with the police's theory that a fellow bird fancier took the canaries.
"They must have known what they were after."
The 71-year-old discovered the theft after the thieves triggered the alarm system in the shed where they were kept in Breach Road, Heanor.
He said: "I have kept canaries for more than 20 years and it is my favourite hobby.
"The shed where I keep the birds has electric light and central heating and is especially set up for the birds. There is an alarm system that is hooked up to the house and it went off at about 10.30pm. I went out to the garden and saw that the lock had been cut on the shed and 13 birds were gone.
It is devastating. The thieves just cut the locks on the shed and used the cages in there to carry them out. They must have known what they were looking for."
Mr Severn said all the birds had rings on the legs which carried individual numbers, making it difficult to sell the canaries on.
Mr Severn added: "I just hope the birds are ok and hope that anyone with information will go to the police."
Anyone with information is asked to call Derbyshire police on 0345 123 3333 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
(Reproduced from the Derby Evening Telgraph)
GARDIEN TIP: Don't just rely on an alarm system. As in this case, it is often too late to stop the theft from happening. Strengthen the physical security to make entry a very difficult (and noisy) job.