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Dusty Klepto Chu Strikes as Night Vision Video Reveals Snowshoe Cat Burglar

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by hearit

hearit's picture
In The News

"Dusty" 'Klepto Kitty' Chu has stolen a plethora of goods: At least 600 items have gone missing from neighboring homes in San Mateo, California, as a literal cat burglar is caught on night-vision video by Animal Planet--literally dragging home everything but the kitchen sink. He does do underwear and bras.
Dusty prefers swimwear and swimsuits to steal -- but in a pinch he'll also take gloves, towels, shirts and clothing, shoes and Crocs, cleaning sponges, stuffed animals, and even underwear. The cat makes sure his owners have an option with not one but two pair of mens' briefs -- in white or black.
The cat's owner, San Francisco dentist Jean Chu, isn't sure why the Snowshoe cat collects things to bring back -- but she says she's got shopping bags of collectibles in her car, all stolen by Dusty. “My car looks like a homeless person’s,” says Chu.
The thieving cat's been spotted by neighbors and even caught in the act. One neighbor says she saw Dusty come in to steal her bathing suit top, before returning a few minutes later for the bikini bottom. The feline's also orderly in his thievery and doesn't like to split things up: Owners Chu and Coleman have a whole pair of black, low-top Converse sneakers -- each shoe painstakingly dragged one at a time.
Feline theft isn't all too uncommon but Dusty's collection may be: the cat's pilfered about 600 items over the past three years -- that's a 'break-in' that averages every 1.825 days. When Animal Planet filmed a week of the feline's nightly escapades -- where the cat appeared on night-vision video footage -- viewers got an eyeful, including what appears to be a women's bra dragged awkwardly down the pavement. The cat hit a 'high' of eleven stolen items in one night. When he does go on prowl, owners Jean Chu and Jim Coleman believe Dusty averages about three to four stolen goods per night.
And Dusty's now famous for his burglaries: the Snowshoe cat has even appeared on the "David Letterman show" -- video footage of the star and his thieving ways.
Perhaps the 6-year-old feline is just 'rescuing' the things he brings home: Dusty was a rescue of sorts himself, adopted by his current owners from the Peninsula Humane Society -- in San Mateo, California -- four years ago.
Animal experts say the practice by cats, called "collecting", may be linked to a prey-retrieval behavior. The dragging home of items could be considered on par with feline delivery of rodents like rats and mice or gophers.
If that's not the case, perhaps certain cats simply like to shower their owners with "gifts" -- including other people's gifts.
Dusty, it seems, has "friends" abroad: A British cat has a fascination with, well, cats. That and things that sort of look like cats -- or are at least soft: Feline "Frankie" Bishop has returned home with 15 toy leopards in the last year. And he's consistent: His owner, Julie Bishop of Wilts, says those particular 15 cat toys all appear to be the identical plush leopard. Frankie's from a Wiltshire farm, now living in Swindon, Wilts in England. Like any consistent thief, Frankie's never satisfied with his take -- rather, he's always on the lookout for the ever-bigger heist: Owner Julie Witts says Frankie "doesn't really play with them [the toys]. He dumps them down and goes out looking for something else."
At the end of October, the former farm-dweller hauled back not one but two green witch's heads -- thought to be from a nearby Halloween party.
The 2-year-old tomcat has also swiped 35 teddy bears and plush toys in a year. He's what could be dubbed an actual "cat burglar": While other thieving cats are known to hijack goods from yards and porches, the tomcat's suspected of actually sneaking into neighbors' homes. But Frankie appears to be a neat freak with his "take": the cat makes a pile of the stolen stuff, always leaving the goods in the same spot on the living room floor. His owners say he's been looting since basically the same time he's been allowed outdoors.
Frankie's loot has included plush teddy bears, leopard toys and a giant squeaky beefburger -- apparently meant for a canine friend -- in the cat's robberies about town. His owner's taken to posting signs of the stolen goods -- in an ethical attempt to return the stolen loot to its rightful owners.
And then there may be things people don't really want back after Frankie's brought them home -- like old or used socks, diapers and 'people food' including partially-eaten hamburgers and chips. Oh, and 'cat food' like birds and dead mice.
In New Zealand, it seems pickin's are slim — at least for "Gus" Kelly, the cat who started out his collecting habit by bringing home the natural stuff: The feline chose leaves, bark chips and sometimes a newspaper to drag home to owner Meredith Kelly. Gus finally took it to the next level in the in the Invercargill suburb -- instead dragging home articles of clothing, underwear, toys, odds and ends and what has now added up to about 60 shoes. Gus has even been caught in his robberies, while returning for the second half of a pair of shoes. Apparently the cat burglar prefers hiking boots, children's dress shoes to sandals and -- his owner says -- Gus Kelly has good taste.
Before his more recent shoe fetish, the cat collected dolls, teddy bears and even a ski mask. If he encounters the same problem as new homeowners do with furniture that can't fit through the (kitty) door, he leaves them on the outside step.
Two of the three famous, robbing cats have been rescues: the British Frankie Witts is originally from a farm while the Nor Cal Dusty Chu was adopted from the Humane Society. Perhaps the cats are just really happy to finally be "home" -- and looking for a way to truly show their owners that appreciation.


Dusty '"Klepto" Chu San Mateo, CA
United States
37° 33' 46.7712" N, 122° 19' 31.89" W
Peninsula Humane Society
12 Airport Boulevard
San Mateo, CA 94401
United States
Phone: (650) 340-7022
Fax: (650) 348-7891
37° 35' 14.0604" N, 122° 19' 51.636" W
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