Imported Pa. pigeons pilfered

March 19, 1997


Staff Writer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - For the second time this month, thieves stole expensive birds from a private aviary when more than 300 exotic pigeons were taken from coops in Willow Hill in northwestern Franklin County, Pennsylvania State Police said Wednesday.

The theft of the birds, valued by their owner at more than $8,000, occurred on Tuesday, police said.

Paul Robert Urban, 64, owner of the stolen pigeons, said his birds were taken by someone familiar with his property and his habits. They were taken between 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. when he and his wife are always away from home attending an auction.

Earlier this month about 225 finches, lovebirds, parakeets, cockatiels and doves were stolen from a collection in Orrstown that its owner valued at nearly $7,000, according to state police.


Urban said he has 287 varieties of pigeons in a flock numbering nearly 5,000. "No one around here has as many as me," he said.

The reason his pigeons cost so much is because they are imported. It can cost up to $600 just to buy and bring in a pair to the United States, he said.

Urban urged police investigators to check at auctions where his stolen birds are most likely to turn up. "Pigeons are sold at auctions," he said.

Unger also said the thieves could hide breeding pairs in places like cellars and raise and sell their offspring. Markets could include shooting clubs that use them for target practice. "An ordinary American wouldn't know how valuable my pigeons are," he said.

Urban believes more than one person is involved in the theft. "One person could not have done it," he said. "They had to be set up for it with a truck and cages."

He said someone broke into his aviary and stole 40 pigeons last week, but he did not report the theft to police.

Urban said he will hire a security guard to protect his birds and his property.

Urban is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the return of his birds. He also said he would shoot anyone he sees trying to steal his birds again. "I don't care if I go to jail for 20 years," he said. "If I catch anyone stealing my pigeons I will kill them."

He said he has been raising pigeons since his father gave him his first pair when he was 2. "I have traveled around the world all of my life to find pigeons. I've bought pigeons at shows and at auctions. I worked very hard at this. My pigeons have won trophies, awards and ribbons at shows all over the world."

Urban has no homing pigeons in his flock. "They won't come home on their own," he said.

On March 6, state police reported that thieves broke into a specially equipped mobile home owned by Kathy Fertivey of Mountain Road in Orrstown and took 225 of her small exotic birds.

Many of the birds taken were nesting pairs, Fertivey said.

The estimated value of the stolen birds was about $6,800.

Fertivey believed the thieves would take her birds to sell in a warmer climate.

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