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Thursday, 9 May, 2002, 16:42 GMT 17:42 UK
Bird egg stealer loses car
Some of the stolen eggs
Mark Whitcombe had a large collection of eggs
An egg collector arrested in Norfolk has become the first in the country to have his car confiscated.

Mark Whitcombe, 35, of Manor Way, Risca, south-east Wales, was put on 12 months probation for stealing eggs from Blakeney nature reserve, Norfolk and the Orkney Islands.

Cromer Magistrates also confiscated his car, an H-registration Ford Fiesta, which he used to commit his crimes.

The court heard that when Whitcombe's house was raided by police, 181 bird eggs were discovered.

Sends message

They included those of terns, great skuas, red-throated divers, oyster catchers and ringed plovers.

Grahame Madge, a spokesman for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), said: "We are delighted that magistrates and judges are taking wildlife crime very seriously.

"It sends out a message to anyone prepared to travel to steal eggs of rare birds that it is likely their cars will be confiscated."

Following a prosecution by the RSPB, Whitcombe was convicted in April of two charges after stealing eggs in Orkney in June 2000.

Whitcombe, a stock controller for a computer firm, had admitted eight other charges at another hearing earlier this year.


Click here to go to Norfolk
See also:

24 Apr 02 | Sci/Tech
UK's starlings in surprise slump
18 Apr 02 | Sci/Tech
Old bird breaks UK record
04 Apr 02 | England
Bird-watching Big Brother style
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