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Thief flies St. Paul coop with $20,000 worth of pigeons

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When word of the crime was first distributed on Twitter by the St. Paul police, it looked pretty innocuous.

Soon an MPR blog explained that the 35 birds stolen from their owner's yard this week were racing pigeons and they might be worth $1,000. A police spokesman told MPR the thief left a coop of non-racing pigeons behind, taking only the most valuable birds.

FOX 9 then paid a visit to the victimized owner, who said the value was much more. John Kaiyalethe told the station one of the thoroughbred racers had a pedigree that made that bird alone worth $10,000. He estimated the value of the group at $20,000. Kaiyalethe told the station the pigeon named The Godfather was imported from Belgium, where his sire had been sold for nearly $60,000.

The Pioneer Press later put the number of stolen birds at 45. The newspaper reports that a Gem Lake breeder also had pigeons stolen recently. In that case a month ago, the ten stolen birds were worth an estimated $17,000, according to the paper.

But wait, there's even more pigeon news on this day. The Star Tribune has a separate story on a Plymouth couple being ordered by that city to get rid of the 35 rare pigeons they own. City officials say pigeons are not considered domestic animals and having them violates an ordinance, the Star Tribune reports. These birds are not racers but the owners have spent several years and thousands of dollars building their collection of rare birds. The couple tells the newspaper they plan to move away from their home of 13 years to a city that will allow them to keep the pigeons.

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