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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 August, 2003, 15:05 GMT 16:05 UK
Matilda gives burglars the bird
Matilda the African Grey
Matilda the African grey is trained to greet people
Would-be burglars got the bird when Matilda the African grey parrot confronted them.

As the thieves entered the remote house near Nunthorpe, Middlesbrough, they turned on the lights only to find they had roused the vocal creature - and quickly fled.

Matilda greeted them with a chirpy: "Hello, who are you?"

When the stunned burglars offered no reply, the bird took an altogether sterner tone, demanding: "Hey you, come over here!"

It was enough to send them packing.

Little could they have known that Matilda was trained to greet anyone entering the home and shout the second phrase if no answer was given.

The intruders entered the property on Saturday night via the garage and took a number of power tools before forcing their way into the house.

It was unoccupied apart from Matilda as owner Jacci Burnett and her husband were away for the night.

But the bewildered burglars turned and fled, taking nothing further from inside as the parrot scared them away.

Verbal deliberations

Mrs Burnett was given the bird 14 years ago as an anniversary present and had it trained to question visitors.

She said: "My husband and I believe that Matilda saved us from any further property being stolen and we are grateful for her action.

"Matilda is a character and always reacts to house lights going on and off.

"When we switch them off at night she always says 'See you later'."

A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said: "It is strongly suspected by the house owner that the verbal deliberations of Matilda disturbed the burglars and they fled from the scene.

"Cleveland Police are investigating the burglary, but at this time are not intending to interview Matilda.

"It is hoped however that the offenders will appear before a beak sooner rather than later."

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