SUMMERFIELD, Fla. -

Marion County deputies are searching for the culprit who stole 1,000 homing pigeons worth nearly $18,000 from a Summerfield man.

Deputies said the owner of the pigeons reported that the theft took place during the night hours on Feb. 15 at a farm on Southeast 84th Terrace.

The man told Marion County sheriff's deputies that the pigeons were typically sold for recreational purposes, mostly witchcraft.

He also told investigators a person or team "possibly drove into his neighbor's open field, which leads to the pigeon coop" the night of the theft.

Nearly 100 baby pigeons were also found dead, deputies said. The baby birds were valued at $1,800.

According to the owner, it was not possible for the birds to escape on their own, deputies said.

“Had the birds gotten loose,they would still be in the yard due to the birds being homing pigeons and they do not go far from their home,” according to the victim.

Anyone with information about the theft is urged to contact the Marion County Sheriff's Office.