Above: Two show cages similar to the ones pictured are missing, which Mr Rouse believes were used to transport all 16 of his stolen birds

INTRUDERS HAVE CLEARED out an exhibition canary birdroom for a second time in just two years.

Devastated Reading canary breeder John Rouse’s birdroom was targeted during the early hours of January 22 in what he believes is a repeated attack by the same gang.

Thieves gained access to 83-year-old Mr Rouse’s garden by using a neighbour’s dustbin to help climb over a fence, ignoring a CCTV camera. Unfortunately, the camera was inactive and therefore did not capture footage of the break-in.

The intruders ripped off the birdroom door’s bolt, which they took with them, along with 16 exhibition-quality ringed canaries: buff and yellow Yorkshires and Borders. Mr Rouse believes his birds were crammed into two show cages that are also missing from the birdroom.

Only one Yorkshire canary from four pairs was left behind. It will now permanently be kept inside Mr Rouse’s house.

An avid reader of Cage & Aviary Birds, Mr Rouse said: “I keep an eye on the theft stories reported in this paper because I can sympathise with the victims.

“I know exactly what it feels like – even more so now that it has happened to me twice.  It is gutting; why me?

“I walked inside my birdroom on that morning and there were my 30 cages, all empty bar one. The one bird that was left behind was whistling its head off.”

Aside from the door’s lock, no further damage was carried out inside the birdroom.

The incident mirrors the October 2016 break-in, which resulted in the theft of Mr Rouse’s 18 canaries (see News, November 23, 2016). Three concerned neighbours had alerted him to the theft, which took place in the late evening of October 22. Mr Rouse had only invested in Yorkshire canaries in April 2016, having previously kept Border canaries for 48 years.

Fanciers from Mr Rouse’s nearby bird clubs have since offered birds to keep him going in the hobby he began at five years old. However, he is yet to decide if he will continue keeping birds.

● Anyone with information should contact John Hayward at the National Theft Register on 01869 325 699.

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