In a case made for TV detective Tony Baretta, a heartbroken pet owner has put a bounty on the head of a cockatiel crook in Queens.
Mihaela Oprea is offering $500 for the return of her beloved Coco, who flew out the window of her fourth-floor Crescent Street apartment and plummeted to the pavement, only to be pilfered by a passing pedestrian.
The brazen birdnapping was caught on videotape and Coco was still alive when he was scooped up.
“It is so difficult. We have gone through a lot of emotional distress and it is very painful,” said Oprea, 45, choking back tears.
The Astoria endocrinologist said her parents, Gheorge and Doina, who live with her, were giving 14-year-old Coco some exercise on March 3 when Coco flew the coop.
“It was a warm day even though it had snowed. They opened the window to bring fresh air in and the window has a screen,” but the mesh slipped halfway, she said. Coco normally takes two or three laps around the living room before tiring himself out. But this time he “took one lap” and “just went out the window.”
Gheorge yelled “Oh my God!” and the septuagenarian rushed down four flights while Doina stayed at the window and watched in horror.
“I saw this man put Coco in a case,” Doina recalled, her voice cracking. “I’m screaming to him, ‘That’s my bird!’”
By the time Gheorge reached the front of the building, Coco was gone.
Mihaela, who had been away in Pittsburgh, flew into action. Within a week she had obtained surveillance video footage of the incident from a laundromat, which shows a man passing their building, putting an object in a case and then walking down the block.
Mihaela printed out screen shots of the man’s face and her dad canvassed the neighborhood with them. They also posted flyers.
One neighbor recognized the man as a 64-year-old who resides on nearby 34th Avenue. The man was confronted and he admitted to being in the video — but denied taking Coco.
Next, Mihaela enlisted a real pet detective — retired NYPD cop Angel Nieves, who went over the evidence. Convinced it was sound, he directed them to file a police report.
Detectives at the 114th Precinct are now investigating, according to an NYPD spokesman.
The cops can’t crack the case fast enough for the Oprea family.
“I haven’t slept in two weeks,” said Doina. “I’m crying all the time.”
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