As a group of neighbours in northeast London recently learned, there's good reason the expression is "cat burglar."
The Telegraph reports that the 20 sets of house and car keys that disappeared from Stoke Newington homes over the past five weeks can all be traced to one sticky-pawed feline.
The great key caper of 2012 began when Milo the cat's owner, Kirsten Alexander, fitted her pet with a magnetic collar. Milo's collar was intended to operate the cat flap her 27-year-old human had recently installed on her front door to prevent other area cats from hanging out uninvited.
Delighted with this new-found means of house-to-house entry, the nine-year-old kitty proceeded to do exactly what her owner had sought to prevent in her own home, and raided the homes of other cat-flap havers.
And that's where the magnet comes in.
As Milo stalked around the neighbourhood living rooms, all sorts of metal objects flung themselves at her collar like willing prey.
"I put a magnetic cat flap 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," Alexander told the Telegraph.
"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."
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It took a while before Alexander managed to connect the street's missing key problem with the growing pile of door openers Milo dragged home each day.
"When I saw her coming through the cat flap 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," she said.
After a little digging, Alexander unearthed 12 sets of keys in her backyard, eight more hidden around her home and an additional six sets that didn't quite make it past a neighbour's garden.
She will also never run out of bolts, nails and pins again thanks to the lifetime supply Milo managed to attract.
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The keys have since been returned to their owners, who all appeared to take the incident in good humour.
They may, however, want to consider a Milo-shaped demagnetizer on their front doors.
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