A BIRD lover has been left devastated after heartless thieves stole her precious cockatiels and killed a number of chicks.
Retired Eve Arkle said she was horrified to find that burglars had broken into the aviary at her allotment in Silksworth Lane.
They snatched a number of cockatiels after breaking in with bolt cutters.
Newborn chicks died after being unsettled in the burglary, with their mother having to be rehomed after she became distressed during the ordeal.
Mrs Arkle, 62, who is offering a reward for the safe return of the yellow and grey birds, said today: “I just feel sick to the stomach.
“I’ve looked after them for the past eight years and to lose them like this is horrible.
“The chicks that have died looked like one-inch balls of fluff.”
Six of Eve’s cockatiels were taken in the burglary, which happened overnight on Wednesday. They include Quassi and Smokey, who each have rings on their legs with ‘Eve’ written on them.
“If someone came back with them, I would willingly give them £50 as a reward,” added Mrs Arkle, of Silksworth, who first heard about the thefts on Thursday morning when a fellow allotment owner saw the damage.
“Now I only want to keep Quassi and Smokey as they are my pets. I’ll give the others away to someone who can look after them.
“I don’t care, as long as I get them back.
“I don’t know why they would want to take them anyway as they cost about £40 each from to buy from pet shops, but you can maybe only sell them for £10 each.
“A couple of them were a little big raggy anyway so they wouldn’t sell for much.” Since the theft, Mrs Arkle and husband Kevin, 59, have been scouring Wearside pet shops to see if anyone has tried to sell on the animals.
“We’ve been out putting up posters and, hopefully, someone will have heard something,” added Mrs Arkle.
Mrs Arkle’s friend Pam Wilson, who is helping with the search for the birds, said: “It’s been a real shock for Eve because she’s looked after the birds religiously for years. You really feel for her.”
The thieves also tried to steal a generator from the allotment site, but were unable to do so.
In a separate raid, five special breed chickens were stolen from a farm on Sunderland Road, East Boldon, on Monday.
Police are investigating both thefts and are appealing for witnesses or who has been offered chickens or cockatiels for sale. People can contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.