|Articles from The Eclectus Forum|
Ed. Note: Dorine Mckinnon gives presentations on the problem of bird thefts,
which have escalated recently, especially in Florida and California.
The first most important thing you can do to increase your aviary security is to get a P.O. Box for all bird related business, an answering machine that will be allowed to answer ALL calls and caller I.D. Also anonymous call block is helpful by not allowing calls through that decline to be identified. Be sure to record ALL calls that are from bird related business and also any anonymous calls as well. Keep dates and number of times the caller accessed your phone. Remember we are dealing with "bird people" and everyone is suspect! Have your answering machine message reflect that you always let it answer whether you are at home or not, but that you will return calls. This prevents someone from keeping tabs on you by phone.
Do not allow any club to include you in their roster! Most clubs would be best advised to discontinue this practice immediately. Breeders in the area, closest to where the thefts are occurring should discontinue hosting committee meetings in their homes. It would be convenient to use restaurants, parks or public facilities. Giving tours of your aviaries has always been hazardous and should not be done, as well as making videos that show all or parts of your aviary or it's construction. Also reduce selling from your home to those you check out in advance. You might want to offer to take any birds to the prospective buyers home or business unless you are familiar with them. Keep a record of all names and addresses of buyers and prospective buyers (with addresses and phone numbers if possible). Make the appointment for the next day if possible and check the address out or call back later to confirm not only the appointment but that you have the correct phone number.
Do not allow your dogs to run together and at large! Tie or crate them in several different areas on your property overnight. This keeps anyone from disabling all of them before they can sound an alarm. It also makes FiFi the toy poodle just as effective a deterrent as Bruiser the Doberman! The dog nearest to your most expensive pairs should have a baby monitor close by as well. These can be battery operated or electric but will sound a loud static noise if disabled!
Keep the other end on your nightstand. At first it will sound like your birds are having a party and you weren't invited, but eventually you will come to distinguish the normal night sounds yet be aware of the FIRST SQUAWK of a disturbed bird or the alert of your dogs! Check it out thoroughly each time. Check between cages and in trees. Check your motion lights to be certain they are in working order and have not been disabled. An intercom system might let you check several areas instead of just one if you have electrical outlets close by. CCTV monitors can be bought that also incorporate seeing each area as well as hearing it. These need electricity and cable installation. If you can afford cellular phones it would be good to have one attached to a battery backup. Try to keep at least one vehicle inside a garage or fenced in carport so that all your vehicles cannot be vandalized and/or incapacitated.
Increase passive security of your outlaying areas. Plant Bougainvillea on the outside of any chain link fences. This quickly grows to over 20' tall and 10' wide in full sun, bearing long sharp spikes all along each branch. It freezes back in extremely cold weather, but do not cut it at those times. Allow the new growth to come back out, covering over the dead branches and it will maintain it's integrity as part of your security system.
Install cement footers to all other chain link and wood fencing or plant fern along both sides of your fences. Discovery of smashed places in foliage will alert you to intrusion. Poison ivy and oak planted at the bases of your trees and trained to entwine them will make them undesirable hiding spots. This goes for both sides of fencing!
Large properties might want to incorporate the introduction of bee hives in outlaying areas. Many bee keepers would welcome an additional site and you can work together cooperatively to secure that area of your property. I don't know of anyone who would want to run through a bunch of bee hives at night! If you live on a seldom used road, especially a dirt road you might investigate getting one or two ringers similar to those that gas stations use to announce customers. Make sure they cannot be driven around in their placement. With two you can tell if the car really did pass or has stopped somewhere between the devices.
Use and share any idea to discourage thieves, no matter how silly or useless it may appear. The more obstacles you can place in a thief's way in preventing your birds from being removed the more likely they will try another location. They seem to learn as they go and so must we. We must be innovative, stealthy and above all else NEVER LAX! Check every time! Check every measure! Check between cages, in trees, outbuildings and even under vehicles! They could be hiding there waiting for you to go back to bed to finish the job! Check every 5 minutes if the need be, and if your security system is repeatedly sounding, call the police. Do not hesitate or assume it is a varmint!
Keep everything picked up and tidy to prevent thieves from using your own equipment against you. Make him bring his own cages, sacks and cutting equipment. Don't leave yours laying around for his convenience. Secure your nestboxes to your cages with bolts. Secure your cages to their stands and secure the stands to the ground. Use dog tie downs that screw into the ground next to the legs and bolt the whole thing together. Use electric 3 or 4 foot chain link fencing around the outside of aviaries. Suspend it just like a single strand of electric fence would be, yet keep it close enough to the ground that one cannot slip underneath.
Use heavier grade wire on all new aviaries. Use padlocks on each cage or flight. Do not leave nets outside nearby. Put them away each time! The more equipment they have to drag in the louder they will be and longer it will take. Make them work to get your birds! And make as difficult as possible.