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Woman charged in bird theft

A 23-year-old woman has been cited for the theft of a cockatiel Wednesday from PetNorth in west Brainerd.

Brainerd Deputy Chief Mike Bestul on Monday said the suspect, Savannah Austin, 22, was cited for misdemeanor shoplifting. He said identifying and locating Austin was achieved through a photo from the store's security cameras, tips given on Facebook and through the work of Police Officer Joel Reed.

The bird was stolen Wednesday night from PetNorth in Brainerd by two female suspects who were caught on video stealing the 12-week-old cockatiel. A woman in a wheelchair was seen on camera taking the bird out of its cage and hiding it under her jacket, according to store employees.

Another unidentified woman walked into PetNorth around 12:15 p.m. Friday and returned the stolen cockatiel. The cockatiel was then given to Ashley Nebel, a 9-year-old Brainerd girl, whose mother had purchased the bird as a gift.

Bestul said there are no more citations pending in the case.

According to state court records, Austin has previous convictions for criminal vehicular operation, driving after license suspension, gross misdemeanor theft of over $500, gross misdemeanor forgery and misdemeanor theft.

MATT ERICKSON may be reached at or 855-5857.