Duo accused of stealing kittens from Sayreville had adopted 4 before
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been updated to remove the names of the accused because the report is out-of-date and charges against one of the suspects were expunged by a Superior Court judge.
SAYREVILLE — The duo accused of stealing a kitten from the Animal Rescue Force Shelter had previously adopted four cats from the same shelter, staffers say.
Amy Ray, a manager at the shelter, said she found records of the previous adoptions following the arrest on Friday.
Police were called to the shelter last month when volunteers at first noticed that one cat was missing from its cage, and then a second was noticed missing the next day. Surveillance video from a nearby building showed one of the people staffers believed stole the cats, and staffers said the man seen had been there both days.
The couple has admitted to stealing one of the two missing cats, and that cat has been returned to the shelter, police say. The other remains missing.
Shelter workers and police went to the couple's home Carteret home — a rented room — Sunday to reclaim the four cats that were previously adopted, Ray said. She said the landlord and one of the suspects were cooperative. She said they were not let into the home.
The landlord said he believed there was only one cat in the room, Ray said. She said officials don't know if that might be the second missing cat — named Maggie — or the four that had been previously adopted.
"Clearly they don't have the others in that room, so it's like where are they others and why won't they tell," she said. "We don't know what to do now."
"They were good people," Ray said of the suspects. "They were on the up and up. They even sent us pictures of one of our cats to the foster mom showing a picture of the cat lounging in the girl's lap."
Ray said she eventually learned from Google searches that the couple had faced criminal charges past. Earlier this year, the two were arrested on shoplifting charges.
Ray said that Berkley, the recovered cat is doing "great" but that not knowing where the other cats are is troubling.
While the search for Maggie and the other cats continues Ray said the shelter is in the process of figuring out what other steps can be taken to protect from future issues including cameras, creating a database, and other potential security measures.
Since the cats were stolen, Ray said, there has been a lot of support from the community as a whole. On the shelter's Facebook page a poster promoting the return of Maggie is offering a $1,000 reward.
"We were so successful getting (the first cat) Berkley back, let's hope the same happens for Maggie!!" the post said. "If anyone was given a kitten since last Saturday or was asked to hold onto a kitten or got one from a friend that looks like Maggie please contact us.
Ray said police told them at this point they would either need to get a search warrant to look at the couple's room for the cats or that it would need to be taken up as a civil matter.
The shelter asked anyone with information about Maggie to call 732-259-8711.
Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or Adam.Hochron@townsquaremedia.com