CATS are vanishing without a trace in the Whitby area, leading residents to suspect that an unusual sort of thief may be committing the purr-fect crime.
In an odd twist, the majority of disappearances appear to be occuring on Wednesdays, and victims suspect that the ‘cat burglar’ may be targeting the area on that day each week.
Louise Barningham, of Love Lane, lost her cat Muffin on the same night that another cat on the same street disappeared and she said: “It’s odd that Muffin is not the only cat to have gone missing in the area, it seems that something sinister is going on.”
The most recent case of cats disappearing without trace occurred in Staithes on 13 June.
Rachael Theaker, of Seaton Close, discovered that her one-year-old cat named Cassie had vanished, along with two other cats, named Reaper and Tibby, on the same estate.
Luckily her cat, which is blind in one eye, was spotted on Ellerby Lane near Mickleby just a few days later, and Mrs Theaker said: “It didn’t get up there by itself, it’s been taken up there.
“I don’t know who or why as it never does any harm to anyone.
“If they wanted to keep them, why would they dump them? There doesn’t seem to be any logic.”
One suggestion is that the thieves are taking cats in the hope that they are pedigree animals and therefore potentially highly valuable.
If the cat does not match their requirements they may then be being dumped randomly.
Mrs Theaker added: “We were gutted when we came back and she was not here. We were so glad to have her back.
“I can’t believe she lasted so long. I think she’s lost a few of her lives.”
Last Wednesday a cat was reported missing in Aislaby, while two other pedigree animals also vanished in Sleights.
A few weeks previously, on Wednesday 6 June, Juliet Emerson’s cat Tony disappeared in the Love Lane area, while in the centre of town Angie Maher’s cat Buddy was taken from her secure yard on Flowergate.
Mrs Maher, of Burn’s Yard, said that the only entrance was held closed by a latch, so someone must have taken her pet.
She added: “I feel like we can’t find a member of the family.
“We miss him lots and we have another little cat who’s definitely pining for him, called Kipper.”
Buddy is 14-years-old, arthritic and had a serious operation after he was hit by a car as a juvenile, so he rarely leaves the home.
“He’s very much bonded with us,” added Mrs Maher. “After he had his operation he couldn’t walk for a while so I looked after him very closely, so he has been by my side ever since.
A new group has been set up on Facebook, called Pets Lost and Found in Whitby, where anyone can go to post information about their missing animals, or to report finding a stray pet.
Residents who believe their pets to have been stolen say that when they have contacted both the police and the RSPCA they have been quickly dismissed.
However a spokeswoman for Whitby Police said: “We have only received one report of a missing cat over the last few weeks, but if anyone believes their pet has been stolen, we urge you to contact the police on 101 as soon as possible.
“Losing a beloved pet is heartbreaking and we will do everything we can to solve the mystery. If there is a serial cat thief operating in the area, they need to be stopped.
“The police need as much information as possible to inform their investigation. We do need cat owners to report any suspicious incidents to us and also other members of the public to tell us about any suspicious activity or people they have seen in the areas where the cats have gone missing.”