Johannesburg – For at least two years he terrorised the Joburg suburb of Kensington, an ace contortionist who scaled walls, sometimes storeys high and squeezed through the smallest of burglar bars to steal as residents slept.
He was so good at it, he was given the name the Kensington Cat Burglar as time and time again he slipped into and out of houses while avoiding the patrolling police and private security guards who knew him by sight.
But early this month the Kensington Cat Burglar’s reign ended when he picked on the wrong family.
On November 2, just after 2am, the alleged burglar climbed the wall of a two storey house and crept through the window into a bedroom.
The light was on and a man lay asleep on the bed but this didn’t stop him.
As the alleged burglar leaned over to take a wallet laying on the side of the bed, those who know of the incident, say the man woke up.
Instantly the man grabbed the intruder and got him in a choke hold.
The burglar, it is said, fought hard, his hands trying desperately to reach for his pocket, where later it would be discovered he had a knife.
The fight only ended when the suspect was shot in the leg.
The alleged Kensington Cat Burglar was taken to hospital that morning under police guard with a non life threatening wound.
He was finally in custody, two years after he was first arrested by the police.
This happened on August 14, 2020 after he was allegedly spotted on camera walking down Nottingham Rd, late that evening.
“ARREST!!! Kensington’s Most Wanted was finally arrested last night”, a post on the community Facebook page We love Kensington declared.
It was not to be. The police later released him, apparently because of a lack of evidence.
The alleged cat burglar continued his crime spree and through the months and years his exploits were told through neighbourhood WhatsApp groups and Facebook posts.
His image was caught several times on CCTV.
In one video he could be seen slowly crawling across a patio floor between chairs towards an open door.
One Kensington resident came home to find that someone had stolen more than R300 000 worth of jewellery after he had somehow contorted his way through a hole in window burglar bars that measured 25cm by 15cm.
A space smaller than the length of a school ruler.
He came back for a second time, this time he left a knife in the garden.
“I think by giving him a name like that it has made him feel brazen now that he is famous,” said the resident who didn’t want to be named in the article and added that she wasn’t 100% sure he was the Kensington Cat Burglar.
Those who have seen him describe him as having a small head that enables him to squeeze through those impossibly small places.
“There is no one who has Chutzpah like this guy, he will get in anywhere.” declared another Kensington resident.
Sometimes it is believed he struck two, three times a night, stealing laptops, cellphones and even a PlayStation once.
“Cat Burglar Strikes Again!!!” says one on December 14, 2021.
“CAT BURGLAR ALERT!” says another.
And true to his name during one incident he allegedly even gained entry to the house through the cat flap in the door.
Most of the time the families sleep through the ordeal but then it changed.
The Kensington Cat Burglar began getting violent. In September a home owner in Gloucester Road was reportedly stabbed three times when he was awoken by an intruder in his house. The wounds were non threatening. The suspect left a backpack and cellphone behind and from evidence gleaned from these items, security personnel believed it belonged to the Kensington Cat Burglar.
A week later a man believed to be the cat burglar allegedly stabbed another Kensington resident after he woke up to find him in his bedroom.
Again the injury was not life threatening.
Since his arrest on November 2, for house robbery, a specialised police unit has taken over the investigation.
Jeppe police station spokesman Captain Richard Munyai said all the case dockets associated with the alleged cat burglar have been collected and transferred to the Trio Task Team, responsible for investigating house robberies, business robberies and car hijacking.
Yesterday at the time of going to press Munyai couldn’t confirm how many cases the suspect was facing, he was also unable to confirm if he had been released from hospital and had made his first appearance in court.
It is because of this that the “Saturday Star” made the decision not to name the suspect.
As the investigation unfolds more is likely to be learnt about how extensive the man’s crime spree was.
As for the residents of Kensington, there is a sense of relief.
“I guess a lot of residents in Kensington can rest now that he is behind bars,” said one of his victims, who like others, didn’t want to be named.