Authorities in St. Paul remain stumped by recent thefts of racing pigeons in the city.
FOX 9 reports the thefts are worrying local racing clubs and pigeon owners, whose birds can be worth thousands of dollars.
The most recent case came this past week. As the Pioneer Press reported, it involved the theft of 30 birds from a coop on the east side with a combined value estimated at $1,000.
That came less than a month after a prize pigeon worth $10,000 was stolen along with 34 other birds that together were worth that same amount. Police said then that only racing pigeons were stolen from that coop, with non-racing birds left alone.
FOX reports police suspect the thieves are taking the birds to breed them, or perhaps race them overseas. If they were released anywhere in Minnesota the pigeons would follow their instinct by flying home.
Pigeon racing's popularity had waned for nearly a century but according to a story in the Toronto Star last week it's seen a revival in recent years, particularly in China. A businessman in that country spent a record $400,000 on the purchase of one bird last spring.
The stealing of birds is apparently only one of the controversies that have accompanied the sport's revival. The Star reports others include illegal gambling rings, animal abuse, and even doping of the birds.
The pigeon racing world's marquee event is coming up next month, when the South African Million Dollar Pigeon Race will take place in Sun City.