A prize-winning homing pigeon has won the race of its life – by escaping the clutches of a Romanian crime gang and flying back to its owner.
6:34PM GMT 17 Mar 2010
Charville Dan was one of 120 birds taken in raids of the homes of four British breeders last month.
The pigeons, worth up to £30,000 each, are believed to have been stolen to order by a gang from Romania where the sport attracts substantial prize money.
But the thieves met their match with Charville Dan, a former winner of the most testing events in the pigeon racing calendar – the Barcelona International.
Five weeks after disappearing the bird appeared back in his owner's Middlesex loft, a little ruffled but otherwise unhurt.
Ken Hine, 74 from Hayes, said: "I went to check some of the babies I keep in a separate loft – and there he was.
"It's amazing that he's returned home – I thought I had lost him forever. He has some feathers missing, and just by looking at him, it's clear that he has had a good fly."
He added: "I'll be sure to take good care of him and nurse him back to full health and given the travels he's been on, we are thinking of renaming him Romania Dan"
Police in Essex, Kent and London are still investigating the thefts.
The Barcelona International, which Charville Dan won in 2007, attracts tens of thousands of competitors from around Europe. The bird which flies back home from the Spanish city at the fastest average speed is named the victor.
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