Any pigeon fancier can feel his stomach churn when hearing the news of a pigeon theft. It happened again last week, this time in the pigeon lofts of Cor De Heijde and Jelle Jellema. A pigeon theft not only means the loss of some invaluable pigeons, it is often the life's work of a fancier that gets ruined in an instant. We are often dealing with pigeons that fanciers tend to develop a close connection with over the years. As such, a theft will inevitably leave a void that takes a long time to be filled. On social media we came across words like 'cowardly', 'horrible' or 'a drama'.
At first sight, one could interpret this as a marked increase in pigeon thefts. Unfortunately, we have heard of several pigeon thefts again this year, involving famous and less well-known fanciers, (semi) pros and hobby players. Pigeons were stolen from the following pigeon lofts over the last several months:
- Cees Lathouwers (Oostelbeers, NL)
- Ko Van Dommelen (St. Philipsland, NL)
- Thjeu Cox (Stein, NL)
- Patrick Lismont (Bekkevoort, BE)
- Wim en Bertrik Murk (IJsselstein, NL)
- Diefstal bij Noël Peiren (Zedelgem, BE)
And there was also the attempted burglary in the pigeon lofts of G. & H. Calis (Bussum) which they only just managed to stop.
That last incident brings us to the question of how we can possibly prevent pigeon thefts in the future. Pigeon thefts were quite rampant a few years ago, urging many fanciers to often heavily secure their pigeon lofts. Cameras, infrared cameras, fences, a watchdog... Fanciers did not hold back when it came to keeping unwanted visitors out of their lofts. And their methods often proved rather successful. The number of burglaries went down and fanciers that had invested in adequate security measures could sleep on both ears. But not every fancier was willing or able to make such considerable investments, which is why we continue to see pigeon thefts occur on a regular basis. And the methods used by these criminals have repeatedly suggested that they had already familiarized themselves with the surroundings or the lofts beforehand. They had either visited the premises earlier on or they had been tipped by someone. Please remember to not just invite anyone to your lofts!
We received an e-mail from a fancier who had been the victim of pigeon theft himself last year. He never heard anything about his pigeons afterwards and as a victim, he did feel like he was on his own. But the fancier also started thinking about a possible solution:
"Is it really that difficult to develop a tiny tracking system that could help us retrieve our stolen pigeons, and that could be used for our most valuable birds? This is the year 2020, and we are still unable to adequately protect our pigeons, let alone prevent a simple pigeon theft. Pigeons will continue to get stolen as long as there is no waterproof system in place."
This an idea that opens perspectives. It would at least slow down pigeon thieves and it would help the police find a trace. Which manufacturer is willing to fill this market gap? Perhaps someone can think of an even better solution?
In any case, we urge you to say vigilant. The days are starting to get dark earlier, and fanciers are not spending as much time in their pigeon lofts. An evening walk around the lofts or some lighting are small efforts that could make a big difference.
Many fanciers that fall victim to a pigeon theft are left on their own. A breakthrough in the investigation takes a lot of time, if it comes at all. But there is always hope, as you can tell from the pigeon theft in the lofts of Frans Bungeneers: the burglars were caught and sentenced to 30 months in prison plus a fine of (at least) 320,000 euro. It goes to show that pigeon thieves are taking quite a risk. Criminals that get caught or get traced later on will have to face the consequences for quite a long time.
That is why we all have to be very alert. Even the smallest detail could eventually help trace the criminals. It is also generally believed that many of these burglaries were carried out by the same criminals. This means that certain clues from different pigeon thefts could help us piece together the puzzle. Together we are stronger, and that applies to pigeon fanciers too.