Residents' keys thieved by genuine cat burglar

Nine-year-old Milo looks innocently on next to her stash of keys. Credit: Stian Alexander

The mysterious disappearance of house and car keys in a London neighbourhood raised fears of a thief operating in the area, until the culprit was collared as an accidental cat burglar.

Milo, a nine-year-old tabby, had managed to displace more than 20 sets of keys thanks - in part - to an adventurous spirit, but - in the main - to her magnetic collar.

Her owner Kirsten Alexander, 27, had fitted Milo with the special collar so she alone could activate a cat flap to stop other feline rivals from raiding her food.

But Kirsten had no idea the collar had inadvertently unlocked Milo's potential to pilfer her neighbours' keys in broad daylight in Stoke Newington.

Milo already had a reputation for sneaking into other people's homes. Credit: Stian Alexander

I put a magnetic catflap to stop other cats coming in to steal Milo's food, but I had no idea what she was getting up to all day when I was at work. Obviously she likes roaming around and sneaking into other people's homes and it just so happens that her magnetic collar kept picking up people's spare keys.

The accidental five-week crimewave ended when Milo was caught by Kirsten returning home through the flap with a set brazenly dangling from her neck.

Since then, a dozen keys have been found scattered in her garden and eight around the house, plus a further six sets located in neighbouring gardens.

Admin worker Kirsten Alexander has returned all the keys to their rightful owners. Credit: Stian Alexander

When I saw her coming through the catflap with a set of keys round her neck I thought 'poor thing' because her neck was really weighed down, and then it dawned on me what was happening. I've given all the keys back and luckily neighbours have seen the funny side of it.

The spoils of Milo's campaign. Credit: Stian Alexander

Kirsten said keys were not the only things being found out of place.

Milo had also scattered metal items like nails, pins, screws and bolts in different locations.