ST. PAUL (AP) - A flock of elite racing and breeding pigeons has been stolen from the backyard of home in St. Paul's Como neighborhood.

Owner John Kaiyalethe says 45 pigeons were taken this week by someone who broke the lock on their lofts. Kaiyalethe says the birds are worth more than $20,000, including his prize breeder, the Godfather, which alone is valued at more than $10,000.

The 27-year-old medical technologist says the thief who took the pigeons apparently was familiar with the hobby because two less valuable birds were left behind. Kaiyalethe says the theft might be connected to another one recently in Gem Lake. Pigeon breeder Fred Macalus had 10 breeding birds, worth about $17,000, stolen from his property.