Thieves will go to 'extreme lengths' to steal rare birds' eggs, police warn
- Credit: David Thacker
The theft of rare birds' eggs is still a problem in Suffolk and wildlife enthusiasts are being urged to stay vigilant to any suspicious behaviour.
Although the crime is rare, egg thieves will travel the country to target rare species, according to Suffolk police.
The peregrine is a particularly targeted bird for nest robberies, and is prized by both egg collectors and illegal falconers.
It is believed that peregrine eggs can fetch up to £70,000 in the Middle East.
Sergeant Brian Calver, from Suffolk police's rural crime team, said thieves will go to "extreme lengths" to get their hands on prized eggs.
He said: "It's very rare these days for people to want to collect them but there are still a few hardcore people out there who have got an obsession and take them for their own collections and to swap among their close circles.
"But also, further up the scale, you have got those who will take them for financial gain and that's normally around raptors.
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"Specifically things like peregrines because in the Middle East you've got people out there who will pay a vast amount of money for a wild peregrine.
"So there are egg thieves who will go to extreme lengths to get them and smuggle them out of the country to trade in the Middle East where it's almost like gold within an egg shell. They are worth an awful lot of money.
"Those people are rare but they are willing to travel the country to target certain species."
Operation Easter, which runs across the UK throughout the bird nesting season, targets egg thieves and allows intelligence to be shared with police forces.
Sgt Calver said Suffolk has seen incidents in recent years and urged the county's birdwatching community to stay vigilant.
"A couple of years ago now we had some stone curlew eggs go missing from the Cavenham nature reserve," he said.
"So I would like to get a message out to the public and the birdwatching community to be vigilant to anyone who does look out of place or look suspicious.
"Those who are out there to steal, there will be something about their behaviour which will stand out and look suspicious. It is worth reporting.
"If they do take them, especially a bird which has got a very bespoke need in terms of its habitat, you've only got to take one year's set of eggs and that can have a massive impact on the species numbers for the future."