Owner devastated as prized falcon stolen with the perch she stood on
PUBLISHED: 11:30 25 November 2019 | UPDATED: 12:15 25 November 2019
A Suffolk man is pleading for the safe return of his bird of prey which he believes was stolen from his garden by opportunist thieves.
Tony James' pet falcon Dancer, an 11-year-old female, was taken along with perch on her owner's lawn near Bucklesham on Thursday around 3.30pm.
Mr James said he is saddened by the ordeal and is praying for Dancer's swift and safe return - with a financial incentive on offer for those who can help.
He said: "The recurring nightmare is that she is stressed and being badly handled.
"She could have been taken by an opportunist, or someone targeting birds of prey, claiming her for breeding."
Mr James, who has owned birds for more than 40 years, said he had left his home in Newbourne Road to go to work when Dancer was taken.
He posted on social media appealing for help on Thursday and the appeal caught the attention of Rory Stewart, currently campaigning to be Mayor of London, who retweeted the news to his 224,000 Twitter followers.
Mr James said he had been overwhelmed by the response, with members of the community offering money towards a reward for anyone who can return Dancer safely.
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He estimated that the financial reward currently stands at several thousand pounds but is worried that if he offers too much it could prompt an 'epidemic' of thefts.
"I don't want to push it," he said.
"I wouldn't want anyone else in the area to experience this, I am very lucky I have a lot of friends who are helping but I worry for others who don't have the same support."
Mr James added: "The response has been incredibly humbling. It's amazing that people have made the offer to help.
"It's had me in tears."
This would be the 11th season the pair have had together, but Mr James believes the incident is not isolated and may be linked to other bird thefts nationwide.
He said: "I've got friends all over the country that have suffered a similar fate."
The Suffolk Rural Crimes Unit has been contacted and there may be CCTV evidence of the potential thieves obtained from a village camera.
However, Mr James said that at this stage: "All I can do is hope."