MOTT HAVEN — Police are investigating the case of a beloved neighborhood cat who was snatched from the South Bronx auto shop she called home earlier this month — in an apparent cat-napping that was caught on video.
Maria Orozco, co-owner of D&M Towing at 205 E. 138th St. in Mott Haven, said Cindy the black- and brown cat had been in their care for about four years, since she was a kitten, before she went missing earlier this month.
Although the family said Cindy tends to wander around the block that the auto shop is on, when they checked surveillance footage from the night of Friday, April 1, they realized she had been cat-napped by a strange man.
The video, shared with DNAinfo New York, shows a man with dark hair in a blue striped shirt and dark pants waiting near the front passenger side of a silver car at approximately 10 p.m. on April 1.
The man crouches down to pet Cindy and pick her up. He shows the cat to the driver, who never gets out of the vehicle, and briefly walks back towards the shop, then gets back into the passenger seat with Cindy, shuts the door, and his companion drives away.
Orozco and her family say they don't recognize the man in the video and have no idea why he would want to take the cat.
The family reported Cindy's disappearance to the police, and detectives from the 40th Precinct have opened a petit larceny investigation into it, according to the NYPD.
Although the family has looked for her around the neighborhood, they have not been able to find her yet, they said.
Orozco described Cindy as a light brown cat with black stripes and one particularly distinctive characteristic: she has six toes in each of her paws.
Cindy was extremely popular throughout the neighborhood, and many people would stop by the auto shop to say hi to her, Orozco said.
She had gone missing once before but returned on the eve of Hurricane Sandy with an added surprise for the family, according to Orozco's son Rudy Fajardo, who also works at the auto shop.
"We thought we lost her, somebody took her or something," he said, "but then she came back pregnant."
The family tried keeping Cindy at their home, but she did not seem to like it there very much, so they started keeping her at the auto shop, a habitat she seemed much more content with, according to Orozco's 12-year-old son Danny Orozco.
Danny Orozco described Cindy as part of the family and agreed with his mother that she was extremely popular throughout the neighborhood as well.
"There’s this one lady, she comes here, and she always pets the cat," he said. After Cindy was stolen, he said the woman asked, "'Where’s the cat?' And then we said we lost her, someone took her, and then she started crying," he continued. "That’s how much they loved her."
Cindy would typically come to greet Orozco and her husband when they came to the auto shop.
"I miss her," Orozco said.