Peninsula News

Klepto kitty's owners find out how he operates

Monday, November 05, 2012

Remember "Dusty" the klepto kitty? He's the real life cat burglar in San Mateo who became a worldwide sensation after ABC7 News aired a story about him. He's still stealing, but his owners have finally found out how he does it.

Today, Dusty looks content and more mellow, nothing like the thief who stole about 600 items in three years.

Jean Chu, Dusty's owner, said Dusty has stolen "towels, gloves shoes, socks, little toys, children's toys."

He leaves home at night and returns with his loot in the morning. A camera installed by the Animal Planet Network captured his nightly heists for a week. And he's not choosy about what he steals from neighbors. Our story on Dusty went feral. It got millions of hits on YouTube.

His story catapulted him onto news programs all over the world. Dusty's antics was a bonus feature in the "Puss In Boots" DVD. He appeared on the Letterman Show and Jay Leno even had some fun making jokes about Dusty.

Here at home, Dusty basked in his role as grand marshal of the annual Burlingame Pet Parade. It's been almost two years since we aired our story, so we went back to see how he's handling his celebrity status.

"He still has to get out. He still has to looking for whatever it is, his little treasures," said Chu.

But now, he's wearing a collar camera. In fact, Dusty was shooting us as we were shooting him. His owners always wondered what his M.O. is, where he actually went at night. Now with the camera, they know.

They found that Dusty likes to start the night on the roof. We took a look at what it looks like from his critter cam. He appears to be surveilling the neighborhood, sort of checking out the lay of the land. He then goes underneath the family car, maybe he's hiding. Suddenly, he dashes out across the street. He's now decided which house to hit.

One house Dusty races toward the back of the home into the yard. He finds a pet door -- one that Dusty will crawl through, one that leads to hidden treasures. Owners Chu and Jim Coleman also installed an infra-red camera outside their home. It shows what Dusty brings back.

On the night we were there, he stole a toy Nemo and we found it at home, but Dusty seems to be slowing down since we last saw him.

"I think it's mostly because the neighbors know about him now. So they know better than to leave something outside," said Coleman.

So now, what does he bring back from his nightly heists?

Chu: Mostly, he brings back plastic and garbage now... Taco Bell bags, Safeway bags, sometimes with garbage in it.
Lee: So now he's become the garbage collector? He's cleaning up the neighborhood?
Chu: Dusty has reformed, yes. He's trying to do good now.

We always noticed something else on the night video. A cat on the left side of the screen and Dusty is on the lower right side. Is he having a midnight affair?

Dusty gave us a meow, which we took to interpret as "No comment."

As we left, Dusty went back on the roof. Is he thinking about committing another purr-fect crime tonight? Or has he really cleaned up his life by cleaning up the streets. After all... cats do like litter.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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animal, san mateo, peninsula news, vic lee
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