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SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE (CBSMiami) — An 87-year-old Southwest Miami-Dade is heartbroken after a thief steals 500 orange and yellow canaries from his home. But now Miami-Dade Police are hoping for a break in this case.

They have released surveillance tape that they say shows the suspect inside Robert’s Pet Store at 24420 South Dixie Highway on May 27th. That suspect is seen walking down an aisle and is described as 35 and is heavily built and has short black hair.

It is the same day that detectives say the canaries were stolen from a shed behind the home of Manuel Sanchez, who lives at 119th Avenue and Southwest 47th Street.

CBS4’s Peter D’Oench spoke with Sanchez’s daughter.

She did not want to give her name but she told him, “I feel terrible. This shouldn’t have been done, especially since it was my Dad’s hobby. He enjoyed it very much and was disappointed when it happened.”

Police say the canaries were stolen around 2 a.m. on May 27th and were worth up to $30 each. Detectives say the total value of the 500 birds could be up to $15,000. An original estimate in a police report says the total value of the canaries is $12,500.

Detectives say 150 of the canaries have been recovered through “investigative techniques.” Some of the canaries had special tags or markings on them.

Many of the birds were sold to Robert’s Pet Store. That’s where manager Lazaro Sardinas told D’Oench that 100 of the canaries were recovered by Miami-Dade Police.

He said “From what he (the suspect) told me, his grandfather was ill and he wanted to get rid of the birds because his grandfather was ill.”

Coincidentally, Sanchez was one of Sardinas’s customers.

“I feel bad for him,” he told D’Oench. “This gentleman was a customer of mine. I feel glad that we were able to recover 100 of the canaries and 50 other canaries were recovered at two other stores.  But I feel bad for him because of all the work he puts in with them.”

Sanchez said he is no longer raising canaries as a hobby. Police say Sanchez had taken care of the birds for 20 years.

Police say the canary thief also sold the stolen birds to Pet Lover Supply at 15178 S.W. 56th St. and to Animal Pet Shop at 10845 S.W. 40th St.

Dagoberto Altuve, the manager of Animal Pet Shop, said, “It is a common practice of people walking in and selling birds. A lot of birds are sold by homeowners who are breeding them.”

“In this case, everything seemed legitimate,” said Altuve. “He even came in the store with a little girl.”

“I hope this suspect is caught,” said Altuve. “He needs to get caught. He needs to be arrested. I feel bad for the victim in this case.”

Sanchez did not want to comment about the case.

Police believe the suspect had at least one accomplice. They say they canvassed homes in the area looking for witnesses.

At Sanchez’s home, a family friend told D’Oench that the canaries were stolen while Sanchez and his wife were out-of-town.

Anyone who recognizes the suspect in the surveillance tape is urged to call Miami-Dade Police or Miami-Dade Crimestoppers at (305) 471—tips (8477).



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