Cat Burglar With A Woollens Fetish!
By: Julie Jacobson - stuff.co.nz
Not just anything mind, but their best woollens. And no pastels. Whoever was nabbing this stuff was no pussy.
The saga, more suited to the mean streets of the Bronx than the suburban cul de sacs of Cambourne, in Porirua, began eight weeks ago with the disappearance of mum Rosemary's black merino V-neck.
Then it was the navy Fairisle – size XXXL, a gift to hubby Neville, followed by daughter Georgia's Wellington Girls jersey.
The list went on – socks, trousers, more socks. The only member of the family not to have anything nicked was Casey the cat.
The Alexander-Neilsons began counting the number of items they hung out to dry. Then counted them again when they brought the washing in.
"We were becoming really paranoid," said Rosemary. "We started hanging out stuff we didn't care about just to try and catch whoever it was. But that was never taken, it was just the good quality stuff."
Several washing loads were taken to the in-laws in Otaki.
Neville was getting worked up. "You just start wondering what sort of person would be doing this. You want to protect your family."
He padlocked the front gate. The police were called.
"They said whoever it was was possibly unhinged."
Meanwhile, the family cat also fell victim to the Camborne kleptomaniac. Her newly washed sheepskin was pinched.
It was the last straw. And the catalyst for a very clever bit of catch-a-thief DIY.
Neville disguised a video camera in an old soap powder packet and sat in wait. And waited.
Twelve hours of long-play later – "you can only watch so much washing dry" – he nailed it.
A sinister shadow fell across the row of socks. A criminal paw plucked at a sleeve. The burglar was a cat!
Once the Alexander-Neilsons had stopped laughing, and heaved huge sighs of relief that they weren't dealing with an oddball, the cat's owners were tracked down and the clothes re-possessed.
The terrible twosome had apparently dragged the gear through several backyards, over two fences and in through the Johnsons' catdoor before discreetly dropping them under Holly's bed.
For Neville, the capture was a closure of sorts.
"I really just wanted to put a face to it. Once I knew it was a cat, it was totally over."
"What got us was the way he did it. I've never seen anything like it. It's not as if he bolted away with his booty. He just wandered off as casual as ever."
The Johnsons are still a little red-faced. Carlos' loot included a blue jersey, several mis-matched socks and a polyprop top – all as yet unclaimed.