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Police return purloined parrot

November 10, 1999|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

A parrot that was swiped from a Hagerstown pet store Tuesday evening was returned to its owner Wednesday morning, squawking but apparently in good health.

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"Maybe we should start calling him Lucky," said Ken Muller, owner of the Pet Connection in the Ames Plaza, as he reclaimed the previously unnamed African Congo gray parrot at Hagerstown City Police headquarters.

Police said a man went to police headquarters at 7 a.m. Wednesday with the bird, valued at $1,700.

"He told us a man walked by his home at 66 E. Antietam St. last night and offered him the bird for $100," said Capt. Robert Hart.

The man said he only had $60, and the bird was his.

On Wednesday morning, the new owner learned from the news that the bird had been stolen and he took it to police headquarters, Hart said.

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Police placed the parrot in a dog cage for safekeeping until its owner arrived.

"We're just so excited to get the bird back," store employee Jessica Chrisp said Wednesday evening as the parrot stood quietly on its perch grooming itself.

Chrisp, 17, who was working Tuesday night when the bird was stolen, said she has grown attached to the parrot that she hand-fed when it was younger.

Chrisp said she was not alarmed Tuesday evening when a man who had been browsing in the store leaned over the fencing toward the bird's cage.

But then the man unscrewed a ring securing the cage, reached over a fence and grabbed the parrot, she said.

As the thief put the bird under his jacket and ran out the door, he turned and said, "I've got your bird," Chrisp said.

The thief mocked the employees, laughing and shouting an expletive, according to Chrisp.

"I couldn't believe it," she said.

Employees chased the man, who fell down an embankment. Chrisp said she feared at that point that the bird might have been hurt, or worse.

"We were really worried. We thought it was dead because their necks are very tender and could break easily," said Chrisp.

The man who took the bird to the police station stopped by Wednesday evening to check on the parrot, Chrisp said.

The store gave the man free merchandise as a way of thanking him, she said.

Born in the United States, the parrot is about six months old with a life expectancy of 80 years, Muller said.

"It's illegal to import them from Africa anymore," he said.

With an intelligence equal to that of a 3-year-old child, the bird can mimic repeated phrases but doesn't have an extensive vocabulary yet.

The thief was described as being in his early 20s with a short blond crewcut. He was wearing baggy blue jeans and blue shirt with a horizontal stripe.

Staff writer Marlo Barnhart contributed to this story.

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