Barn owl chicks stolen from Haddiscoe Island mill

Barn owl eggs and a smashed door at Toft Monks Mill
Image caption The wooden door of the mill was damaged and the barn owls taken

Six young barn owls have been stolen from a nest inside a mill in Norfolk.

The door of Toft Monks Mill on Haddiscoe Island was "completely smashed apart" as thieves went into the building and took the birds, believed to be about three weeks old.

Paul Newton, who had been monitoring the eggs, said: "This is such a hideous, pointless crime."

Norfolk Police said it was investigating and wanted to speak to five teenagers seen near the mill.

They were spotted nearby on Sunday, the day before the break-in was noticed.

Mr Newton said the barn owls' mother, which has been seen in the mill since the theft, laid the eggs last month.

Image caption Paul Newton said the theft of the birds was "hideous"

"We were due to go ring them in about two weeks' time," he said, adding that he had been watching the eggs but was yet to see the chicks.

"My perception is they would be quite possibly two to three weeks old now."

Mr Newton believes the chicks could have been taken to be sold, with each one worth about £100.

"They are schedule one birds, very rare, and for something like this to happen is just pointless," he said.

"It would take a lot of hard work and time to bring them up to fully fledged condition, which is about 56 days old."

Anyone with information about the theft, is asked to contact Norfolk Police.

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