UPDATE: Carteret duo charged in kitten theft

SAYREVILLE — Authorities are looking two people caught on camera and believed to have stolen two kittens from the Animal Rescue Force shelter over the weekend.

Amy Ray, a manager at the shelter, said two cats, Maggie and Berkley, were stolen over the weekend. Shelter staffers thought at first that one cat had simply gone missing Saturday and the other was stolen Sunday before they connected the dots, she said.

Ray said she believes the kittens were taken by a man and a woman who visited the shelter on both days.

Ray said she got a call on Sunday that one of the cats she had brought into the shelter was missing, but she told the volunteers to continue looking and that it would likely show up. It was when she got to the shelter that she realized there was a more serious problem, she said.

"I got there around 2 (p.m.) yesterday," she said. "All the volunteers were outside. Everybody's yelling, 'Somebody just stole a kitten.'"

Ray said on Sunday, the staffers were very busy, with two volunteers helping potential pet adopters. Ray said a man and woman were looking at one of the cats on while another adoption was going on. The man called one of the volunteers into a room where the other volunteer was helping other people, leaving the woman alone with the kitten, Ray said.

She said the volunteers believe the woman probably put the kitten in her purse, as they observed the pair "hastily" leaving the shelter. Video of the man was captured by a camera at a neighboring veterinary office, Ray said.

"The only reason they had noticed that right away was because a cat in that exact cage was being adopted right then," she said. "Two minutes ago they had seen a mom cat and two kittens. They looked back two minutes later and it was a mom cat and one kitten."

Fortunately for the shelter, Ray said, a man who had a photographic memory was sitting outside. The man was able to give shelter volunteers and police a thorough description about the people — what they were wearing, their tattoos, and also the make and model of their car. The only thing the man couldn't provide was license plate, though he believed it was a Pennsylvania license plate, Ray said.

The woman was described as being Asian, around 5 feet tall, with black hair and brown eyes. The man was described as being between 5 feet 6 inches and 5 feet 9 inches with shaggy dark brown hair with dark eyes. He was described as having an "unkempt appearance." The man can be seen in the surveillance video above at around 3:11.

"When the guy gave me the description, that's when I said, 'Oh my God, they were in here at the end of the day on Saturday looking at kittens,'" Ray said. "That's when I put two and two together that my kitten was not just lost in the room, my kitten had been stolen Saturday night."

Around five years ago, some of the shelter's kittens were stolen when they were at a local Petco, Ray said.

She said the shelter is considering installing new security features like video cameras in the room, or even having people who come to the shelter sign in and show their drivers licenses.

In the meantime, Ray said, she is very worried about the cats that she helped rescue and bring into the shelter.

"We get attached to each one. We name them, we foster them, and now to have them stolen?" she said. "Are they being hurt? Are they being fed? Are they being cared for? I don't know. I hate to think of what they're doing."

The Sayreville Police Department confirmed there was a report made about the incident but did not provide additional information on Monday evening.

The shelter staff is asking anyone with information about the whereabouts of the kittens to email amra444@msn.com.

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Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or Adam.Hochron@townsquaremedia.com

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