Thornton Heath pet shop owner's plea for return of stolen parrot
A DISTRAUGHT pet shop owner has made a desperate plea to the man who kidnapped her beloved bird.
Billy, the blue and gold macaw, was stolen from Paulways Pet Centre in Thornton Heath on Monday by a thief who smothered him in a coat before running out of the shop with him.
Now his upset owner Paula Simper has begged for his safe return.
"The shop has been here 35 years, and Billy has been here for 30 of them.
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"Everyone knows and loves him," the 58-year-old explained.
"He is just such a lovey and I really love him. I just want to know he is safe. It is a horrible thing to do at any time of the year but especially now, just before Christmas.
"I am devastated. I don't really know what to do but plead for the person who took him to bring him back home.
"Everyone knew Billy. People would come in here as kids and even now as adults come back in regularly to visit him.
"I have had little ones come in this week asking for him and bursting into tears when they found out.
"Billy would say 'hello', 'what's your name?' 'how are you?' and then say 'bye' to everyone who left. He was lovely."
The theft took place on Monday at around 3.30pm at the shop in the high street.
Ms Simper said: "I had one of the workers, Kirsty, on the till.
"She said she noticed him come in and look around, then he came back half hour later and asked her to get something for him.
"While she left for just a minute, he wrapped his coat around Billy, then ran out of the shop. He must have had a car waiting or parked outside or something because by the time Kirsty chased him outside he had gone.
"He had vanished with Billy.
"We called the police but there is not much they can do at the moment."
Ms Simper is making a public appeal to the thief to safely return the beloved pet in a gesture of Christmas spirit.
"I am sure someone has taken him to earn a bit of cash before Christmas, but please just return him home.
"It is not about money, he is so loved and we just want him back.
"The worst thing is not knowing what has happened to him."
Police said inquiries were ongoing and appealed for witnesses to come forward.
A spokesman said: "We can confirm that police were called on Monday at approximately 3.40pm to a pet shop in High Street, Thornton Heath to reports that a parrot had been stolen from the shop.
"Officers attended and carried out an area search for the suspect, but no arrests were made."