The three exotic birds familiar to customers of R. Thomas Deluxe Grill in Buckhead were recovered Friday by Atlanta police, owner Linay Thomas Sheltra told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A man, identified as 48-year-old Adam Deck, was arrested and is facing charges of theft by taking and second-degree criminal damage to property.
The large tropical birds were removed from their enclosures overnight by someone driving a black pickup truck with a trailer attached. The suspect covered the restaurant’s security cameras while they took the birds, according to Monika Weymouth, Sheltra’s niece.
Credit: R. Thomas Deluxe Grill
The birds have been with the family for decades, Weymouth said, and they often can be found greeting customers near the R. Thomas entrance. The restaurant at 1812 Peachtree Street opened in 1985 serving once unfamiliar “health food” like quinoa, smoothies and fresh juice around the clock. For decades, the restaurant was open 24 hours a day.
“I lost the keys to the place on opening day, so we just stayed open,” Richard Thomas, the restaurant’s late founder, famously said. R. Thomas has now adjusted its hours, but it remains open overnight on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
The three birds are relatively young and would be worth thousands of dollars each. Ruby is a Catalina Macaw born in 2007, while Peaches and Cream are both male Moluccan Cockatoos born in 2010. All three have an expected lifespan of about 80 years.
The family reported the theft to Atlanta police and asked the public to help locate the stolen birds.
“Ruby was my dad’s bird,” Sheltra, who is Richard Thomas’ daughter, told the AJC. “She loved my dad.”
The theft comes at a delicate time for Sheltra. Her family is preparing for an annual race in honor of her son, Richard Sheltra, a firefighter who died in the line of duty in Pineville, North Carolina, at the age of 20.
The Richard Sheltra Memorial Race is planned for April 22 and will raise money for first responders in need. Linay Sheltra said the proceeds are often used to help fire departments update old equipment and pay for new training courses. Her son, who died in 2016, was named after her father, who died the next year.
Henri Hollis is a reporter for the breaking news team. Formerly a freelance writer and photographer working with the food and dining section, he began covering breaking news full-time in January 2021. He is a lifelong Atlantan and a graduate of Georgia Tech.