8 On Your Side story leads to recovery of stolen Cockatoo

Image Mark Douglas

PINELLAS COUNTY, FL (WFLA) – Hector the Cockatoo is back home in Petland near the Largo Mall after a harrowing weekend in the hands of a strange looking thief and an unwitting bird sitter.

Petland issued an alert Friday after a bearded man dressed in a hoodie, hat and two pairs of glasses allegedly stuffed Hector into his backpack, danced at the front counter to distract the cashier and made off with the exotic bird valued at $2100.

“We think that’s why the dancing jig was going on to kind of drown out the noises of the squawking coming from the bag,” said one of Petland’s managers Maribeth Kennedy.

8 on Your Side aired a story Sunday night about Hector’s disappearance showing surveillance video of the alleged thief and a bird that looks just like Hector. We also posted the story on our website and social media. That caught the attention of a woman in Pinellas Park who called the Pinellas Sheriff’s Office.

The woman told detectives a friend asked her to watch Hector and she obliged. After watching the story on NewsChannel 8, she realized the bird had been stolen.

Our camera was rolling when the woman handed over Hector to Pinellas Sheriff (pet) detective Rickey Rogers at her home in Pinellas Park. A short while later Hector was back in safe hands again at the Petland store.

“We had no leads before you guys started following the story,” said Petland Manager Maribeth Kennedy who was overjoyed to see her bird again. Kennedy handfed Hector as a baby and has a close bond with the bird.

Kennedy hand-fed Hector as a baby and has a close bond with the bird.

“This is amazing,” Kennedy said when Hector arrived back at Petland. “Can you say hello to the cameras everyone was hoping you’d have a safe recovery.”

Hector—like most Cockatoos—isn’t much of a talker but he sure was hungry when he got back to his habitat. The man who stole him faces a grand theft charge when deputies locate him.

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