A TAXI driver has had his collection of homing pigeons stolen from the shed in his back garden.

Around 30 ‘Indian Tippler’ pigeons were stolen from Tariq Hussain’s breeding shed in Acklam, Middlesbrough, last Monday night (April 22).

Mr Hussain said: “They are homing pigeons, but only about eight of them have ever been outside the coop, so most of them don’t know how to find their way back.

“A friend of mine who lives nearby also has birds and he’s got a camera on the shed. On the same night about three or four lads were trying to climb the fence and the camera’s seen them. When he’s told them about the camera they’ve all run off.

“Absolutely they know what they’ve come for. It could be somebody involved with pigeon racing or they could have been stolen to order.”

Mr Hussain was approached by someone offering to buy the birds in the weeks before the theft, but said they weren’t for sale.

Tippler pigeons are bred for endurance contests and can fly for up to 22 hours without stopping. The Indian tipper is a rare breed so the birds could be worth up to £4,500.

Twenty chicks have also died as a result of the thefts when they were left without care.

A spokesman for Cleveland police said: “We are appealing to members of the public and particularly those in the ‘pigeon fancier’ community for any information about the burglary or whereabouts of the birds.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact DC Alan Brown from Middlesbrough CID on the non emergency number 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.