DUNEDIN (FOX 13) - Nine baby parrots, just three-weeks-old, are missing after someone stole their owner's vehicle with the birds in the back seat.
Eddie Linberg, owner of Dunedin Birds and More on County Road 1 in Dunedin, said he packed nine Caique parrots, a Brazillian breed, into his SUV last Thursday night as he left work.
He planned to take the birds home with him, since they require formula feeding via a syringe every three hours.
Linberg made a stop on the way home at a bar off Douglas Avenue in Dunedin to say hello to a friend. He left his Chevrolet Equinox running in a parking space near the front door.
"It was running because the birds are so young they need heat. It was cold that night," said Linberg.
He thought he locked the vehicle doors, but surveillance video from the bar patio captured a white male, wearing a white tank top and blue jeans, casually walking from his seat and over to the SUV. He got in the driver's seat and sped off.
Linberg says he was worried sick minutes later when he came outside and realized his vehicle was stolen.
"I kept thinking, they're dying, they're dying," said Linberg.
Like a newborn human baby, Linberg said the baby parrots need constant care, or they will die.
"Particularly the two youngest ones, it would have been hours. My only hope is that maybe he dumped them with somebody who knew how to take care of them, like a pet store or something like that. We've been checking around."
No one has seen the birds since Thursday evening.
On Monday police located the missing SUV abandoned in a ditch in Lakeland off Highways 540 and 98.
The front bumper was damaged and everything inside, including a laptop, was stolen..
"My main concern was not the monetary," said Linberg. "[The birds] needed my care."
He said sadly, it may be too late to save the birds' lives, but it's not too late to seek justice for them.
"It's serious. When you do something wrong, it affects so many different things and so many different people," said Linberg.
Of the nine baby birds, three of them were already sold to customers.
Anyone who recognizes the man seen on surveillance is asked to contact the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.