Burglars slit birds' throats in late-night Stoke raid
BURGLARS killed and stole pet chickens, ducks and a goose in a raid on a city smallholding.
Owner Sharon Ellis-Dale has been left 'devastated' by the massacre of the 12 birds at her Stoke property.
She suspects the six ducks, five chickens and one goose were stolen for food.
The large quantity of blood left behind suggests that the offenders slit the birds' throats before making off with them.
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The raid happened between 10.30pm and 11.30pm on Friday, but Sharon only became aware of what had happened the following morning.
Staffordshire Police are investigating the incident. It has emerged a number of dead birds were later found in a field in Sneyd Green.
Sharon, who has been raising poultry for 10 years, says she will no longer keep any birds on the site.
The 42-year-old, of Lodge Road, Penkhull, said: "When I came round it was just devastation. There was blood and feathers all over the place. I found a carcass of a goose on the ground. They must have left it behind and a fox got to it.
"They'd broken into my neighbour's property and then got into my smallholding, smashing open all the doors and gates.
"There was blood running all down the doors of the chicken coop, and there was a puddle of blood inside. The only birds that survived were two which were inside a rabbit hutch. The burglars musn't have seen them.
"We're all devastated at what's happened. I'm on valium now it has upset me so much."
The alarm was first raised on Saturday morning by neighbour Mick Gorton, who lives opposite the smallholding in Bilton Street.
Mick, aged 47, said: "I knew something was wrong when I couldn't hear any birds. When I went inside there was blood and feathers everywhere.
"Whoever did this must have been there before, because they knew how to avoid all the security cameras. They were very quiet as well.
"I keep birds as well and my wife is petrified this is going to happen to us, so I've moved all the cameras and installed new alarms."
Suspected intruders were seen outside the smallholding again at around midnight on Saturday, but left after being disturbed.
Sharon had previously taken eggs to local primary schools to show pupils how birds are reared.
But she says she will not rear any more birds until she can find somewhere more secure to keep them.
Sharon added: "The birds are irreplaceable. My son raised them from chicks as pets. They were so friendly – the geese would come and sit on your lap.
"I've never heard of anything like this happening before, but I've heard that it might be homeless people who have taken the birds for food.
"I'd like to hear from anyone who might know somewhere safe to keep birds."
Police are appealing for information about any suspicious activity at the smallholding between 4.30pm on Friday and 9am on Saturday.
A spokesman said: "Unknown offenders have broken into the smallholding and released geese, chickens and ducks from various pens. Blood was found at the scene. Later that morning a number of deceased birds were located in a field off Adkins Street, Sneyd Green."
Witnesses should call police on 101.