A FAMILY from Halifax have been left devastated by the theft of 26 of their best racing pigeons.
The birds - worth around £10,000 - were taken from a shed at Dodge Holme Drive in Mixenden.
The family have 54 birds in total, and the best 26 were taken.
Three of the pigeons have managed to make their way home but the rest are still missing.
Richard Mitchell, 45, said they have had the birds for three years and had been training them so they could start competing with them when the season starts this April.
“We were devastated when we found they had been stolen,” he said.
“Whoever did it knew what they were taking.
“We won’t be able to compete this year now.”
Mr Mitchell has been looking after the pigeons with his partner Pamela Rothery and step-children Lauren and Daniel.
Two of the three that have come back are Lauren’s favourite, Seagull, and Daniel’s favourite, Big Head.
“My only conclusion is that they have been able to see out and make their own way back,” said Mr Mitchell.
The thieves took the birds by forcing open the door of their shed sometime between 12.30am and 6.40am on Friday.
The culprits also took a carrier crate.
Police say they believe the thieves will have some knowledge of pigeons as only the best ones were taken.
Mr Mitchell says he wants to offer a reward to anyone who can help him find the birds.
He added he has heard of other pigeon racers in other parts of the country having their birds stolen or even set on fire.
Anyone who has information about the theft should call Halifax CID via 101 or Crimestoppers, where information can be passed on anonymously, on 0800 555111.