Animals Who Are Bad to the Bone: Criminal Critters Caught on Tape


Kiera's owners had no idea about the heist until they saw the footage on the local news.

"I slowed down the video and zoomed in, watched it five or six times -- it was definitely my dog, and I was a little bit shocked," said owner Holly Stirling.

If she is shocked, Stilwell, one of the world's leading dog trainers and star of Animal Planet's show "It's Me or The Dog," is flat-out impressed.

"You have got to praise her in a way, don't you? Because that is pretty incredible," she said.

Kiera is actually perfectly suited for the crime. Huskies have an uncanny instinct for making mental maps for both visual and olfactory routes. The 12-mile round-trip navigating through busy intersections? A cakewalk. And their sense of smell is extraordinary.

"It's like the speakerphone saying 'Eat me, eat me, eat me.' Through all of those smells assaulting her from every direction -- she homed in on that bone," Stilwell said.

But when it comes to theft, there is one animal that actually takes the cake. And not just the cake, but the towels, the car wash sponges, the goggles, the iguana hand puppet and even a size 38 bra.

All this is a mere sampling of the enormous volume of loot of perhaps the most prolific cat burglar ever. Meet Dusty, the Klepto Kitty who has become something of a national celebrity. His master criminal determinedness even caught the attention of David Letterman.

Owners Jean Chu and her husband Jim Coleman noticed bizarre objects showing up around their house and front yard nearly four years ago. Neighbors discovered intimate laundry items missing. And from the beginning there was only one suspect.

"He brought a mitt early on. It was a little boy's baseball mitt, and we couldn't believe that," Chu said.

Chu began cataloguing the enormous take from Dusty's escapades -- more than 600 items. Everyone knew the cat with the sticky paws was doing it, but no one was able to film him until Animal Planet's "Must Love Cats" show host John Fulton came and set up a nighttime surveillance camera.

"We never had an idea how he did it until we had the night vision. The bra was funny. It was so funny, I couldn't believe it. I couldn't wait to get it to the office to show everybody," Chu said.

The videos went viral, with approximately 2 million hits. Dusty was popular around the country as people marveled at the stolen bra and the randomness of his eccentric collection.

"The bikini was good. We saw the bikini bottom on the front steps. And then Friday morning the bikini top was here," Chu said.

But Dusty, as it turns out, is also a Hanes man. For him, apparently, white and black briefs will do.

So Jean and Jim set up a reverse yard sale called "Dusty Gives Back" to return as much of the loot as their neighbors could rightfully claim. The neighbors had fun. But Dusty? He didn't look happy.

There seems to be almost no way to stop him. And, as it turns out, it might not be a good idea to try.

"If the owner tried to stop Dusty from stealing, I think Dusty could get very, very anxious and stressed, because he is not doing what he really loves to do. From the animal's point of view, these are its prizes that it got from its hunt -- that should be celebrated," Stilwell said.

So far, the only thing that has stopped Dusty in his tracks? A girl cat. Night cameras caught him dropping his latest stolen unmentionables when his feline fancy walked by. Perhaps he didn't want to look bad for the ladies.

But otherwise, Dusty doesn't seem to care about his image. When the weather is balmy, he is still on the prowl almost every night -- a Klepto Kitty who's beginning to look like a jailbird.

Websites for more information:

Animal Planet's "It's Me or The Dog"

Animal Planet's "Must Love Cats"

Dusty the Klepto Kitty's Facebook page

Watch the full story on "Caught in the Act," a special 20/20, Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET.

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