Preston penguin thief faces jail after trying to sell zoo's stolen birds on Facebook

A bungling animal collector and former zoo keeper who twice broke into his former workplace and stole £25,000 worth of birds could face up to five years in jail.

By Stef Hall
Monday, 28th September 2020, 1:39 pm
Updated Monday, 28th September 2020, 1:44 pm

Bradley Tomes, 25, of Moss Lane, Hesketh Bank, near Preston, appeared before South Cumbria Magistrates’ Court which was told he broke into South Lakes Safari Zoo in July 2018.

Prosecutors said he cut into the side of the aviary to steal tropical birds.

He was caught when an advertisement for two small penguins was placed on a Facebook selling site. They were bought by an animal rescuer who checked their microchips and found they were stolen.

One if the rare animals that tragically died during Tomes last set of offences

Pleaded admitted stealing, transporting and selling 12 spoonbill birds on July 22, 2018 and two penguins and three macaws on October 27, 2018.

He will be sentenced at Preston Crown Court on October 16.

This isn’t the first time Tomes’ obsession with rare animals has landed him in trouble.

The zoo theft probe was ongoing as the unlicensed animal trader was banned for five years from keeping or trading animals last July, following a visit by animal welfare inspectors to Johnson's Farm in Tarleton farm and his home.

They were met with grisly and upsetting scenes as they found animal and bird carcasses, as well as other rare species kept in terrible conditions in enclosures.

On that occasion Tomes received 20 weeks in prison, suspended for a year, and 120 hours unpaid work.