New Jersey

Couple Uses Boy as Lookout While Man Steals Expensive Birds From NJ Store: Owner

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A couple and a young boy entered a pet store in New Jersey on Saturday and they left with three rare, expensive birds without paying, according to the store owner.

Paterson Bird Store owner Philip Jasper said the man, woman and their young boy had a cat with them and they couldn't enter the bird room with the cat. So the woman held on to her cat while the man took the cat carrier into the bird room. Jasper had no idea that the man would eventually use that carrier stuff three of his birds inside.

"They used the son, who's 7 or 8 years old, he used him as a lookout while he's grabbing the birds. It's really very sad," Jasper said.

Jaspers said that in about two minutes, the suspect took two Rosy Bourke Parakeets and an American Dilute Conure, birds worth about $1,800.

A surveillance video at the store captured the whole incident, employee Arianna Mendoza said. She added that it appeared the man was looking at the prices of the birds to see which ones are the most expensive.

Employees say they're concerned for the birds' safety because they grew up in the store and have to be handfed every few hours. Jasper said he contacted other pet stores in the area to alert them of his stolen birds but he believes the birds have already been sold.

"It's like having a diamond necklace sitting out, you grab it and you sell it to somebody on the streets," he said.

Meanwhile, Totowa police have identified the suspects as 43-year-old Jeffrey Flores from Keene, New Hampshire, who's believed to have ties to Jersey City, 42-year-old Celine Gonzalez.

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