A 35-year-old man has been arrested and charged with felony grand theft after allegedly stealing a cockatoo, valued at an estimated $2,500, from Steckel Park Bird Aviary in Santa Paula, California.
While tending to their nightly chores on Jan. 4, at around 3 a.m., caretakers at the facility discovered one of their birds, an Umbrella Cockatoo named Julie, had been stolen from its habitat, the Ventura County Sheriff’s office said in a news release.
Deputies responded to the scene, collected evidence and noted that the wire siding on the bird’s enclosure had been cut.
Facility caretakers posted about the stolen cockatoo on several social media platforms. Later that same morning, an anonymous party provided information on the stolen bird to Ventura County Crime Stoppers.
As the investigation unfolded, detectives identified Santa Paula resident Michael Wear as the alleged cockatoo thief.
Wear was located in the 400 block of Blanchard Avenue and additional evidence was collected confirming the 35-year-old had stolen Julie, the release stated.
The cockatoo was found at an acquaintance of Wear’s and returned to Steckel Park Bird Aviary caretakers unharmed.
On Jan. 9, the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office issued a felony warrant for Wear, who was charged with one count of felony grand theft and one count of grand theft of domestic fowl.
Wear was taken into custody on Jan. 10 and booked into the Ventura County Pre-Trial Detention Facility. He remains in custody on $10,000 bail and is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday, Jan. 11.
Built in 1926, the Steckel Park Bird Aviary has housed exotic birds from around the world, as well as more run-of-the-mill varieties, including pigeons, turkeys, peacocks, and quails.