Flap over as stolen hawk Rufus returned safe and well

The bird of prey who patrols the skies of Wimbledon has been returned “safe and well” after it was snatched by thieves during the first week of the tournament.

Rufus, the Harris hawk who deters pigeons from the All England Club, was stolen along with his cage overnight between Thursday and Friday.

Detectives had appealed for help to find the missing bird.

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A police spokesman said Rufus was taken from a car parked on a private drive in Dunstall Road, Wimbledon, with the rear window open for ventilation.

Last night, however, the bird’s owners confirmed on Twitter that Rufus had been found and was “safe and well”.

The hawk, which deters pigeons purely by his presence, is also a family pet. Rufus has become a well-known fixture at Wimbledon, with visitors often stopping to ask for photos with him.

Speaking before he was found, owner Imogen Davis, 25, said: “It’s really, really sad. He was taken in his travelling box, which is where he sleeps because it’s nice and dark and cool

“We’re very, very shocked; we just want to know he’s OK.”

She said they had reared four-year-old Rufus as part of the family-run businessd Avian Environmental Consultants.

“To have him taken away like that is just horrible,” she added. “It’s a family business, the birds are brought up around us. They’re part of the family.”

Ms Davis said she originally thought it was a prank, but was not sure as a falconry glove and falconry hood were stolen at the same time.

Rufus is a Harris hawk, an American species. Hawking was first introduced to the All England Club in 1999 as an environmentally friendly method of pest control.