Man returns stolen birds to NJ pet store after internet sleuths track down thief

New Jersey

TOTOWA, NJ — Three exotic birds stolen in a brazen theft at a New Jersey pet store have been returned, PIX11 has learned. 

Surveillance footage of the theft went viral this week after it was revealed that the suspects were a mother and father who recruited help from their young son. It happened at the Paterson Bird Store in Totowa just after 2 p.m. on Saturday. Taking advantage of what was a busy time for the shop, surveillance footage shows the father and son move to the back of the shop. Using a dog carrier, the man swiped three rare and very expensive birds from their cage all while the young boy acts like a look out. 

“He was laughing, it was exciting to him,” shop manager John Carpenter told PIX11 News. “This is what they are teaching him as he grows up as being OK.”

As the Totowa police department opened an investigation on the theft, the shop upped the ante — posting video and screen shots of the suspects on all their social media platforms. In what could be best described as a sign of the times, a group of loyal customers did some cyber detective work and were able to track down the suspects on social media. 

“We even found out that the one lady had her name tattooed across her chest,” Carpenter said. “We got their license plate numbers.”

That mounting pressure on the suspects proved to be enough for them to return the birds Thursday afternoon.

(Paterson Bird Store)

The shop confirmed to PIX11 that the man seen in surveillance footage entered the shop just before 4:30 p.m. and returned the birds before flying the coop himself.

We’re told the birds are visibly thin and currently being treated at the store. The staff is now crediting social media for outing the family and their crime.

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