Autistic ten-year-old boy gets his stolen bodega cat back

'Stolen' bodega cat
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‘Stolen’ bodega cat

This is a story about an autistic boy’s love for a young cat, the theft of that cat and the intriguing question of whether a theft took place….

Jonathans’s love for Luna

Ismael Diaz’s autistic son, Jonathan, loves their shop’s cat, Luna. Jonathan’s family run a deli in the Bronx, NY and you might know that deli cats (a sort a community cat) are called bodega cats. Luna and Jonathan are very close so when a man audaciously ‘stole’ Luna in plain sight (caught on security cameras) it was a great shock and a huge loss to Johnathan. His mother vowed to do all she could to get the young cat back.

“[Jonathan] hasn’t stopped crying,” owner Ismael Diaz said. “He can’t comprehend. We tell him that the police are investigating, so every time he sees a police officer, he goes, ‘Mom! Mom! Ask them, ask them if they found her.'”

Cat theft - Jonathan and Luna

Cat theft – Jonathan and Luna

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Luna was returned by the thief. A 29-year-old man, Stanley Duran, has been charged with petit larceny i.e. theft in plain, modern language. The NYPD 50th Precinct thanked the public for sending in tips. Officers also stopped by with a “welcome home” gift for Luna.

Was there theft?

P.S.My guess is that Mr Duran had to give the cat back because he is clearly shown stealing the cat in the security camera. The evidence is overwhelming and the story went viral on television so there was massive pressure to give in.

The interesting aspect of this story is whether Luna is actually ‘owned’ by Jonathan’s parents. Bodega cats are strictly speaking more like community cats and therefore not owned in the classic way that domestic cats are. They are free to come and go in the community but choose a deli to settle down in an call their home.

If the prosecution proceeds against Duran for theft they may have a struggle to make the charge stick because of this dubious question of ownership. Without ownership there cannot be theft.

Definition of theft:

“A person is guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another [i.e. owned by another] with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it; and “thief” and “steal” shall be construed accordingly.”

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Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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