Lifestyle & Human Interest

Autistic Little Boy's Kitten Stolen, Thief Shows Up To Return Her Days Later


Cats and dogs fall into the wrong hands all the time. There are some people who will take in a dog or cat they find wandering on its own — with all the best intentions — but end up getting attached and never looking for the animal’s owners.

But actually going onto someone’s property and stealing their pet? There’s no way to explain that one, especially to a heartbroken 10-year-old.

Ismael’s Gourmet Deli is a family-run shop on West 238th Street in Kingsbridge, New York. The shop boasts an adorable attraction: a 2-month-old kitten named Luna.

Suzie Pena, who owns the deli with her husband Ismael Diaz, says that some people come in just to see the cat and then end up purchasing something.

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The cat is good for business, but more importantly, the cat is good for her 10-year-old son, Jonathan, who has autism.

On Feb. 23, a man with disheveled hair and a Cookie Monster hoodie entered the shop and selected a drink. He spotted the kitten, knelt down, picked it up and hurried out of the store.

Diaz noticed his agitated manner and was confused when the customer threw some money their way, saying it was for the drink before he dashed out with the kitten tucked under an arm.

“He is devastated,” Pena told News 12, referring to her son. They didn’t know what had happened to the kitten until they reviewed their security camera footage and realized Luna had been stolen.

“(Jonathan) hasn’t stopped crying,” Diaz told WABC-TV. “He can’t comprehend. We tell him that the police are investigating, so every time he sees a police officer, he goes, ‘Mom! Mom! Ask them, ask them if they found her.’”

“She’s so cute and soft, and I want her back,” the boy said.

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It was another mother who was responsible for the kitten getting back to the boy, as the thief’s own mom told him to apologize and bring the cat back to Jonathan. Police charged the 29-year-old thief, Stanley Duran, with petit larceny for his thoughtless crime.

Jonathan got his kitten back on Feb. 28, and the local police even threw in a gift basket to celebrate the return of the boy’s four-legged friend. In this case, mom definitely knew best.

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