Thu, Aug 05, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Kidnappers target racing pigeons

IN A FLUTTER Criminals threaten to torture the birds and sometimes even cook and eat them in a bid to extort up to NT$3,000 from racing enthusiasts

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Racing pigeon owners are desperate after criminals started kidnapping their birds, threatening to pull out their feathers, break their wings and even cook and eat them.

"Almost every one of us has had the same experience with our racing pigeons being kidnapped. If owners refuse to pay the ransom, the kidnappers will torture our pigeons, break the pigeons' wings or legs or simply kill them all," Liu Wen-ti (劉文地), chairman of the Taoyuan Racing Pigeon Association, said at a press conference held by Democratic Progressive Party Lawmaker Lee Chen-nan (李鎮楠) yesterday morning.

Liu said that it takes several months and lots of money to train a racing pigeon. On average, an owner will have to spend more than NT$10,000 per bird before the pigeon is mature enough to participate in races.

During a race, a note containing the owner's name, mobile phone number and address is tied to every pigeon's leg. Criminals usually kidnap an owner's entire flock of racing pigeons, approximately 80 to 100 birds, and then demand a ransom of NT$2,500 to NT$3,000 per pigeon.

"Usually, kidnappers will do some research to establish what route the pigeons will take. Then they set up traps to catch as many pigeons as possible," Liu said.

He called on law enforcement authorities to protect racing pigeon owners' property.

"These kidnappers are cold-blooded. They usually pull out all the feathers of the pigeon, break their legs and wings, no matter whether the owners pay or not. What is worse is that some of the kidnappers would simply cook and eat the pigeons no matter what," Lee said. "This is outrageous."

The Criminal Investigation Bureau's Fourth Division Sergeant Liao Hsiun-cheng (廖訓誠) said that the police will try to locate the kidnappers by screening suspects' bank accounts, which are usually made available for ransom transactions.

He said the bureau will also send out officers to search for traps along the routes racing pigeons take.

In addition to potential indictment on criminal charges, Liao said that kidnappers will also face charges relating to the Wildlife Conservation Law (野生動物保育法).

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