PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — The irony is almost too rich.
A police sergeant with a cat who loves to steal? It sounds like an idea from the Saturday Night Live writer’s table.
But as West Linn Police Sergeant Dave Kempas will happily tell you, his “Kleptokitty” named Tigger is very real, and has become quite prolific over the years — pilfering everything from socks to Wendy’s French fry boxes, candy wrappers and rubber gloves.
“We live next door to a school,” Kempas said. “There’s a hole the cat goes through, and on the other side of the fence is a staging area, if you will, of all the stuff he piles up and brings into the house.”
The cat banditry began about four years ago, when Kempas discovered strange items littered around his house; a pile of gloves here, a hat over there and other items that could only be described as, well, trash.
Naturally, Kempas decided to investigate. The family owns several cats, so he couldn’t be sure which one was the “kleptomaniac” — at least not until he bought the trail cameras.
The night vision cameras — most commonly used for hunting — proved to be especially handy in this case; soon, Kempas had determined Tigger to be the culprit.
Yet unlike Kempas’ day job, this investigation didn’t end with a pair of handcuffs. In fact, Kempas was so amused that he began posting photos from the trail cameras on his personal Facebook page.
Colleagues at the police department urged Kempas to create a special Facebook page for his “Kleptokitty,” and he finally did just that while attending a class on social media.
“I took a class on social media in disaster recovery,” Kempas said. “It turned out to be like ‘Facebook for Dummies,’ so I made a Facebook for the cat.”
Now, the page has a dedicated following of 98 users, and Kempas posts frequently to update friends on Tigger’s latest find.
Though Tigger is the ringleader, he also has an occasional partner in crime.
“Tigger is the one that brings almost all of it back,” Kempas said. “Sugar (another Kempas cat) likes feathers and baby snakes. We had a baby snake on Monday.”
Indeed, both cats have their preferences for what they like to steal. Every once in a while, though, something particularly unusual shows up on the doorstep.
“(Tigger) did bring back a bag of weed one time,” Kempas said. “It was small, a bud is really all it was.”
“I thought, ‘I could get him with a PCS (possession of a controlled substance) charge,” he added jokingly.
Summer is the busy season for Kleptokitty — in the rainier winter months, he tends to abandon his night runs. As for the items themselves, Kempas says most of them are old and unsalvageable.
“One year I washed all the clothes and gave them to Goodwill,” Kempas said. “But most of them are single items in a pair, so they go to the trash. I collect everything in the summer and get rid of it in the rainy season.”
Tigger’s kleptomania is never seen within the Kempas house itself — he only goes outside to do his business.
“He never takes anything from inside our house,” Kempas said. “He always goes somewhere else and brings it back, like a cat bringing me a mouse or something.”
As it turns out, Tigger is also continuing a tradition started by a previous Kempas cat, who used to steal garden gloves and has since passed on.
“He picked up the tradition,” Kempas said, “but he’s gone over and beyond.”