A FAMILY has been left devastated after top breed racing pigeons worth thousands of pounds were stolen from their allotment loft.
Philip Galloway, 47, his wife Debra, 36, and father Sonny Galloway, 72, made the discovery early yesterday and say they feel “sick” at the thought of their beloved birds, worth £16,000, being swiped by thieves.
Philip went to feed the birds at the loft in Nicholson’s Allotments off Dowson Road, Hartlepool, yesterday morning and discovered two gates to gain entry to the plot had been smashed open and the pigeon loft ransacked.
About 20 of the best birds and a pigeon-carrier basket had been stolen, but then the loft door had been locked and closed.
Another 80 birds were left in the loft unhurt.
The trio, who have won hundreds of awards with the birds at competitions around the country over the years, believe thieves may have stolen the pigeons for breeding, as it is the best ones that have been taken.
Debra, a full-time mum-of-six, of Pinewood Close, in the Clavering area of Hartlepool, said: “We can’t believe it. Me and my husband are so angry about it and my father-in-law is really upset.
“Some of the birds have been in the family for generations, from when his own father was still alive.
“They’ve been breeding them for years and years and have won loads of trophies racing them.
“My husband reckons there’s about £16,000 of birds that have been stolen. We think it’s somebody who knows what they’re doing to have picked the best ones out, put them in a basket and just took them.
“They even dropped the sneck down on the pigeon loft door on the way out so none of the others could get out.
“If they had just been let out, then they’d be flying around the allotment. Whoever’s taken them won’t be able to let them out either because they’ll just fly home.
“That’s why we think they’ve taken them to breed them.”
She added: “Philip and Sonny had been to Blackpool over the weekend so I’d been looking after them, and the last time I went down to feed and clean them was yesterday afternoon.
“Philip went down this morning and found the gate all smashed in and about 20 birds gone.”
They have reported the theft to Cleveland Police who confirmed that officers are investigating.
Anyone with any information is asked to contact police on 101.