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Caique Stolen at Omars

News: Man tries to make off with $1,300 bird | customers, sklar, bird, birds, shop -

Video: Man tries to make off with $1,300 bird
Surveillance video shows a man putting a black headed Caique inside his jacket, and the bird crawling out before being chased down by customers and employees.

The Orange County Register
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LAKE FOREST Even with clipped wings, the costly bird refused to go with its alleged birdnapper.

A 35-year-old man tried to stuff a $1,300 bird into his jacket from Omar's Exotic Birds and then ran out of the pet shop Sunday afternoon, but the brightly colored bird wiggled out of the jacket, alerting customers and employees of the theft.

Customers ran out and held down James Leland Loper until deputies arrived and took him into custody on suspicion of grand theft, said Lt. Fred Furey of the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Surveillance video shows the man playing with the birds, which roam freely on perches or sit inside glass enclosures that are open at the top, said Danielle Sklar, assistant manager of the pet shop.
An employee approached Loper and asked him if he needed help, but he said he was just looking, Sklar said. For about 30 minutes he interacted with the birds in the store like the rest of the customers.

Then, after looking around for people around him, the suspect shuffled the black headed Caique inside his jacket and walked out.

"Somebody just saw a bird coming out of his shirt," Sklar said. "It didn't want to stay put."

A group of customers and employees ran after him as he hurried across El Toro Road. One of the customers tackled him and held him until deputies arrived.

Customers are allowed to interact with the birds inside the pet shop, but several visible cameras hang on the ceiling to deter any possible shoplifters, Sklar said. Thefts in the shop are rare, but surveillance video catches those that try to make off with the merchandise.

The store will perches and displays as they are, with customers having free access to the animals, Sklar said. This helps the customers find a bird whose personality meets their own.

The black headed Caique, a parrot with green wings, yellow neck and a black head which is native to South America, was recovered and is back in the store, waiting for an owner willing to pay for it. The price tag is $1,300.

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