People power makes stolen pets ‘too hot to handle’

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The owner of a Ballymena pet shop has spoken of her relief and gratitude after several animals stolen earlier this week were returned.

Callous thieves broke in to Ladysmith Pet Supplies in the early hours of Monday, stealing the store’s pet African Grey Parrot, seven tortoises, one Tree Python and two lizards.

Marion McAuley said she had feared for the welfare of Barney, the African Grey parrot, but said people power had meant the stolen animals had become too hot too handle for the thieves.

“The response on Facebook to our appeal has been phenomenal and we can’t thank people enough for sharing the news about the theft,” Marion said.

She added: “It really was a case of people power - the story went national and I think that made the animals too hot to handle for those responsible.”

The £750 parrot has belonged to Marion for a decade and was a star attraction for customers to the store.

“We’ve had so many people calling us already about the good news and to see how Barney and all the other animals are,” Marion said.

She added: “They’re all a bit hungry but will be fine with a bit of TLC.”

It is understoof the animals were found during a search of a house in the Lanntara area of Ballymena on Thursday morning.

Chief Inspector Simon Ball said: “I would like to thank the community for the information provided, through our local social media accounts and directly to the Neighbourhood Policing Team, which has brought this incident to a successful conclusion.

“One man has been arrested on suspicion of burglary and handling stolen goods and our enquiries will continue in an attempt to secure convictions for all of those involved in this crime.

“I would appeal to anyone who witnessed the incident or anyone with any information that could assist with the investigation, please contact police on the non-emergency number 101, quoting reference 213 04/12/17.

“Alternatively, information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, which is 100% anonymous. All animals are thankfully safe and well after their ordeal.”