A pigeon-napping extortion ring has been busted after three months of investigation by police. The suspects were nabbed in the mountains of Miaoli County, where investigators found money, drugs, and nets with dead birds hanging in them. The thieves used their knowledge of topography and pigeon-flying routes to place the nets and also used fireworks rockets to frighten birds into the nets. They had managed to catch over 100 birds, some of which died, either in the nets, or while being handled afterwards.
The gang used the leg tags on the pigeons to find the contact information of the owners, and then extort from NTD 3,000-6,000 (US$90-183) from the hapless owner, while threatening to cut the tags off, and pull feathers out of the bird. Once a tag is removed from a racing pigeon, it is out of the competition circuit for the rest of the season. The three suspects have been charged with extortion and drug offences. In one and a half months they are estimated to have extorted money from 60 pigeon owners.
While pigeon-napping may seem to be an unusual form of crime, there is nothing unusual about it in Taiwan. It seems that no sooner has one pigeon-napping group has been taken down, another one takes it’s place. In July New Taipei City Police busted a group operating in the mountains around Wanli township, and in September arrests were made in Tainan County.
Sources: Apple Daily, Liberty Times Network