Recently I wrote about the abduction of a British shorthair cat in London which led to a ransom payment of £1000 by the owner. The question at the time was whether the criminal involved was acting in a casual, ad hoc manner on the bases of good fortune in that he had bumped into a lost and expensive cat and immediately saw the potential for ransom money, or whether this was the act of a criminal gang. I have further information about that and about animal snatchers generally in Britain.
The pedigree cat involved, Maggie, was indeed stolen after she slipped through a door at her £2 million Georgian home in Kensington, London. However, her theft and the demand for ransom monies was made by a gang of Eastern Europeans. I am compelled, therefore, to decide that there are quite possibly gangs of Eastern Europeans in London cruising the streets looking for much loved cats to steal and then demanding ransom monies. Perhaps they have a chip reading machine with which they can read the microchip in the cat and therefore ascertain the owner’s details. I am speculating. In the case of Maggie they ascertained the owner’s details from fliers posted on trees etc..
Mrs Meadows, Maggie’s owner, said:
“The way the whole thing evolved suggested a tried and tested routine method. It was pretty organised.”
However, this is only half the story because the big money is with stealing parrots. Certain species of parrot are incredibly valuable. The coordinator of the National Theft Register which specialises in recording exotic species such as primates and parrots as well as domestic animals said that in the past 20 years it had logged more than 16,000 cases of lost, found and stolen animals. Of the 16,000 animals, 95% were parrots.
In 2013, 60,000 animals were reportedly stolen in Great Britain. They included a colony of bees, 1,135 dogs, tropical fish and 58 lobsters. I don’t have the numbers for stolen domestic cats. However, the domestic cat, as we know, is very exposed to being stolen in the UK because the vast majority of domestic cats are allowed to wander outside unsupervised.
Catnapping is certainly not a new thrend but it may be a mounting threat of increasing importance to cat owners in the United Kingdom. We don’t have wild animals preying upon domestic cats in the UK but we do have humans doing it.