By Sabina Mollot
Last month, Town & Village reported that a ring of bird-nappers have been seen trapping and then selling local pigeons to customers out of state who then use them for target practice. While they have yet to be arrested, one bird-napper was caught last year on Stuyvesant Town’s surveillance cameras as he worked to catch birds on East 14th Street and First Avenue.
And now, he’s back, according to a woman who said she watched in horror as a man caught pigeons in a net in Peter Cooper Village on Saturday.
The witness, a resident of Peter Cooper who asked that her name not be published, said it happened in broad daylight at around 12:10 p.m. on First Avenue between 21st and 22nd Streets.
She said she watched as he put out some seed, and following a few birds’ immediate interest, quickly scooped them up. He didn’t get more than those few, however, since the woman said she screamed at him to stop.
“I was horrified; I was in tears,” she said. “I can’t bear animal cruelty. I know people think pigeons, big deal, there are too many of them, but if he could put a net over them, why couldn’t he put a net over a child? Someone that deranged is capable of anything.”
Her yelling must have spooked the bird thief because she said he then left, getting into a dark green minivan, which had been double parked nearby.
Her description of the vehicle matches that given by Stuyvesant Square resident Andrew Garn who spoke at a meeting of the 13th Precinct Community Council in January about bird-nappers hitting neighborhood parks.
The Peter Cooper woman said she wasn’t able to get the man’s license plate number but she did get a look at him. She described the suspect as being Hispanic, in his 40s or older and short. “Just an evil looking face and scruffy looking,” she added.
After his visit, the resident said she headed to the 13th Precinct to report the crime. The cop asked why she didn’t call 911, but she said she didn’t have her cell phone. She said she reached out to ask that anyone else who witnesses a bird-napping try to get his license plate number.
Garn noted at the meeting that while trapping birds is illegal without a permit in New York City, it’s an offense only punishable by a fine. So, he noted, for some, it’s simply the cost of doing business.
Asked about the recently reported incident, Marynia Kruk, a spokesperson for StuyTown Property Services, told Town & Village, “Regrettably, PCVST’s Public Safety department was not able to find the reported pigeon incident on video during the time frame provided.”