A PUB’S parrot has been credited with helping to scare off burglars who broke into three village businesses in one night – raids that could be linked to more than 100 burglaries that have taken place in Huntingdonshire villages in four months.

Fizzy the African Grey parrot has been praised by his owner Dai Heafield - landlord of the George in Fenstanton High Street - for startling the burglars who then fled from the pub empty-handed.

Other businesses were not so fortunate - 30 ball gowns and jewellery worth about £6,000 were stolen from the Frock Exchange and the brazen burglars also stole a selection of drinks and chocolate bars from nearby Barkers Bakery during the raids overnight last Tuesday (February 21).

Mr Heafield told The Hunts Post: "The whole thing is most peculiar. After the police forensic examination I checked how much had been taken and found they had broken the cash and coin boxes from the fruit machine, but taken no money.

"The only reasonable explanation I can think of is that my parrot, who would have made a lot of noise rattling around in her cage, scared them away."

He added: "It looks as if the offenders had been in the pub, sat by the window and loosened the screws so it would be easy to get back in - now I'm quite paranoid and check the windows before going to my flat."

Gaynor Bill, who has owned the Frock Exchange for three years, told The Hunts Post: "This is the first time anything like this has ever happened to me. I was in shock for the whole day. They must have been in the shop for a long time as they were selective [stealing size 14-16 dresses]."

Jackie Alvin, who works at the bakery, added: "They were probably after some money but we don't keep any at the premises overnight, so they stole chocolate bars and drinks."

The three break-ins were a small part of a much larger spike in burglaries in Huntingdonshire villages - Cambridgeshire police have reported 115 in 12 villages since November last year - the equivalent of one a day. It is thought the same group is behind all 115 burglaries.

Officers yesterday (Tuesday) launched Operation Twist to tackle the problem, which has seen properties targeted in Alconbury, Brampton, Grafham, Stilton, Great Gidding, Ellington, Buckden, Hilton, Hail Weston, Easton and Needingworth as well as Fenstanton.

Detective Inspector Jon McAdam, who is leading the operation, said: "Releasing these figures is not about scaring people, as in reality people living in Huntingdonshire have a less than one per cent chance of becoming a victim of burglary. However, it is important that we raise awareness of this series as the public play a vital part in helping us to prevent further offences."

INFORMATION: Det Con Sue Swales urged anyone with information about the Fenstanton burglaries to contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.