Atmore police have lodged misdemeanor theft and trespassing charges against a Santa Rosa County, Fla. man after he allegedly took a local nursing center’s feathery pet from its perch and kept it for several days before returning it.
George Williamson, 57, of Milton has been charged in connection with the bird-napping, which took place at Atmore Nursing Center on Laurel Street.
An employee of Escambia County Detention Center’s booking and release division reported that Williamson is charged with one count each of third-degree criminal trespass and third-degree theft of property. Jail records show that he was freed shortly after his arrest when a $3,000 bond was posted on his behalf.
Police reports show that the parrot was taken around 8 a.m. on Sunday, September 16, while most of the nursing center’s residents were still asleep or just starting to stir.
Police Chief Chuck Brooks said there was no attempt by Williamson to conceal the crime.
“From what we were told, he just walked in there, took the parrot and walked out,” Brooks said. “On his way out he went into an area where an employee had to let him out. He wasn’t trying to hide the parrot, and the employee saw it, but the employee was worried that he might be ‘on something’ and didn’t try to challenge him.”
When ANC’s supervisory staff learned of the theft and witnessed its effect on distraught residents, officials of the nursing center immediately notified city police, who took the case seriously.
“We worked all day (Monday, September 17) on this case,” Brooks said. “Some of the residents out there got really torn up about the bird being gone. It apparently means a lot to them.”
In the meantime, he added, the accused bird-napper apparently flew the coop when his alleged theft became known. Williamson was able to stave off a search of his Milton, Fla., home long enough to vacate the property. Later, he quietly returned the purloined parrot to the nursing center.
“Santa Rosa deputies went to his house and asked if they could search it,” the local police chief said. “He wouldn’t let them in without a warrant, and when they got back with the search warrant, he wasn’t home. A day or two later, around 2:30 or 3 in the morning, the nursing center’s staff got a call telling them to look outside their front door, and there the bird was.”
Brooks said authorities believe Williamson had stashed the burgled bird at a property near his Frenwood Drive home. Reports are that the Florida man told authorities he felt sorry for the parrot, which had reportedly plucked several of its own feathers, and took it in order that he might heal its wounds and stop any further self-mutilation.
According to the Parrot Society UK website, the bird’s loss of feathers is not any indication of maltreatment. Feather plucking is a common disease among fowl that are kept as pets or wildlife exhibits.
“The first point to note is that feather plucking is a disease of captivity; it does not occur (except as a natural physiological behavior in breeding birds) in wild living individuals,” the site reads. “Many owners appear to give their birds the best of care and attention, and yet are rewarded by a bird that rips out all its feathers.”
ANC Administrator Morgan Smith was out of town and not available for comment.