Stolen cockatoo returns to N. Myrtle Beach business + video

mprabhu@thesunnews.comJanuary 3, 2013 

It was a traumatizing holiday season for Jessy, beginning with her forcible capture from her home in North Myrtle Beach two days before Christmas, an unplanned trip to North Carolina and ending with her welcome return on New Year’s Day.

Surveillance video shows two people breaking through the window where Jessy slept and fighting with the cockatoo for nearly an hour before stealing her from her cage at Hawaiian Rumble Mini Golf on Dec. 23.

“She fought with those people when they tried to get her. It took them an hour to get her out. She would go down to the bottom of the cage … when they tried to grab her, she’d try to bite them,” said owner Bob Detwiler.

“If Jessy doesn’t know you or want to be handled, she’ll bite the hell out of you,” said Hawaiian Rumble clerk Charles Simpson.

Detwiler offered a $1,000 reward to anyone who could help locate her, but said it was a tip from a good Samaritan that led police to her in North Carolina.

“The people aren’t interested in the $1,000 they say, but I think it certainly helped in getting the bird back.”

The tip led North Myrtle Beach police to work with officers in North Carolina to help track Jessy down and bring her home. She got back to Hawaiian Rumble Tuesday.

Arrest warrants for two people have been issued, North Myrtle Beach police Detective Joel McGartlin said.

“We’re very happy to have her back,” said Ron Blum, a clerk at the course on U.S. 17. “I’ve been here 12 years and the bird was here before I was.”

Jessy is one of seven birds seen at the course who entertain the customers.

“Jessy was like the leader and she would perform and dance for [customers]. A lot of families would come just to see her,” Detwiler said. “Kids would start laughing and then Jessy would laugh just like them. She’s been there 15 years. She’s part of the family.”

Detwiler said a person, whom he referred to as an “informant,” contacted him after seeing pictures of Jessy posted on Facebook.

Detwiler said one of the people who allegedly stole the bird posted pictures saying she received her Christmas present early.

The photos have been since removed, Detwiler said.

He then worked with officers in North Myrtle Beach and North Carolina to bring Jessy home.

McGartlin said he’s never seen anything like this heist during his time in law enforcement.

“This is a unique case. It’s the first time I’ve known of someone stealing a bird,” he said.

Detwiler said he values Jessy at more than $2,000 because of how important she is to the business.

“You can buy a cockatoo for less than that, but not this one,” he said.

Contact MAYA T. PRABHU at (843) 444-1722 or follow her at Twitter.

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