AN eight-year-old boy has been left distressed after thieves stole 10 cockerels and chickens which he had lovingly cared for during the past two years.

The raiders struck on Saturday evening after taking them from the back garden of the home of Zac Barnes in Brandlesholme Road, Bury. It is believed the intruders came armed with cages to carry the fowl away.

Zac’s father Chris, aged 39, said: “During the day, we’d leave the cockerels and chickens to roam as it’s all open plan here.

“We believe they were stolen from the back garden. I discovered tyre tracks on the drive which leads to the back garden.

“Five cockerels and five chickens were taken. We had got them for Zac about two years ago because he liked them and it kept his mind occupied. We don’t breed them and Zac had looked after them.

“He let them out each morning, put them away in the hen house each evening. “Some were given to us and others had been bought. He also collected their eggs. My son is very upset at what has happened.”

Mr Barnes said there had been some suspicious activity earlier the same day, when two women were spotted nearby talking on mobile phones before driving off in a grey vehicle. Later, a woman, believed to one of the same pair, told a passer-by she was with the RSPCA.

He added: “Last week a neighbour actually confronted a woman holding one of the cockerels in her hand.”

Police are investigating the incident, and anyone with information is asked to call officers on 101.