New Hill, N.C. — A Wake County family is missing their pet turkey after it was stolen the weekend before Thanksgiving, his owners said.
When Tom the Turkey's owners unlocked the doors of their barn Sunday morning, they found the rare, black Heritage turkey missing from his roost at the Parkers' home at 3525 Bartley Holleman Road.
"A guy stole the turkey, and we don't know who it was," 5-year-old Landon Parker said. "They didn't even ask."
Landon's mother, T.J., called the Wake County Sheriff's Office to report the theft. But given the time of year, she isn't hopeful about recovering the family pet.
"Right away, I got angry, and then you realize probably why he was taken and you get upset," Parker said. "I think he was taken for Thanksgiving dinner."
The Parkers were grooming Tom to be a prize turkey and he could have been worth up to $1,500. But they said the loss of the turkey who came by mail-order at 3-days-old is more emotional than financial.
"He's a pet that we've had for the past two years, and he's greatly missed" – especially by Landon, Parker said. "For some reason, the little one (Landon), he was especially close to the turkey."
Tom even had a girlfriend, a juvenile turkey the Parkers had bought to be his mate, who's "heartbroken," Parker said.
Passersby would stop to look at the 3-foot-tall Tom, puffed out and parading around – a neighborhood "fixture," his owner said.
Parker said thieves had targeted her small bird farm before, taking five mail-order chicks and eggs.
"Somebody came and actually traded us. They left a stray rooster and took five of the babies," she said.
Parker and her husband barely break even selling the eggs, but keep the birds to teach their sons responsibility and for the sheer enjoyment.
"All my friends think I'm crazy, being a country girl talking about getting attached to my birds and chickens," Parker said. "But they'll all bring their kids out here, and they'll do the same thing."
Tom's financial and emotional value prompted the Parkers to report the theft to the sheriff's office. Deputies took their report, parked a car near the farm home and stepped up patrols in the area.
The Parkers plan to put another lock on the barn door or put up a surveillance camera.
Parker said she's been working to make peace with the loss of Tom.
"I've come to terms with it, in hopes that it was somebody feeding their family," she said. "I've come to think, 'OK, I'll forgive them.' ... If it was somebody that needed to feed their family, then you can't harbor ill feelings about that."
Anyone with information about Tom or who might have taken him should call the Wake County Sheriff's Office at 919-856-6900.