Littlehampton family 'distraught' after cat-napper steals beloved pet from under their noses

Marc Grove, Victoria Howlett and Oliver Torrey where their cat was stolen. Picture: Derek Martin
Marc Grove, Victoria Howlett and Oliver Torrey where their cat was stolen. Picture: Derek Martin

A distraught family whose beloved cat was stolen from under their nose believed it could be used for dog-baiting.

On Tuesday, August 13, Victoria Howlett said her 10-year-old tabby Maxie was picked up by a man and put into the boot of his car, parked by garages near her home in Timberleys, Toddington.

Marc and Maxie

Marc and Maxie

When Victoria and her partner Marc Grove confronted the driver and blocked his path, he drove into them, bruising her legs and cutting Marc’s arm on the wing mirror, before speeding off, she said.

The 25-year-old said her son Oliver Torrey, six, was ‘absolutely distraught’ by the incident and they had not slept properly since.

Victoria believed the man had stolen her cat to sell on the black market for dog-baiting: an illegal bloodsport where dogs are set on a chained or confined animal.

She said: “It is just awful. I have to keep my other cats indoors now. I am so upset and scared about what is happening to my cat. Is he dead, or is he being ripped to shreds? I just don’t know.”

Victoria Howlett with Maxie

Victoria Howlett with Maxie

Victoria was sat indoors when at 8pm, her neighbour showed her a video of the man picking up Maxie from outside their homes.

A shocked Victoria called the police at 8.20pm, who said they would send officers as an emergency response.

But when they did not turn up and she saw the cat-napper turn on his car engine at 9.30pm, she took matters into her own hands.

Officers did not arrive until 1.30am on Wednesday, when officers took statements. “They seemed concerned, but they took so long to come out,” she said.

Maxie the tabby cat has been stolen

Maxie the tabby cat has been stolen

Her Facebook posts about the incident have been shared thousands of times but Maxie still has not been found.

Victoria claimed the man had been ‘hanging around’ for the past week, and that ‘someone had been leaving food out for her cats’.

She added that another of her cats was poisoned two weeks ago, along with a neighbours’ pet.

A Sussex Police spokesman said: "Enquiries are continuing to trace the car and driver and anyone who has any information can contact the police online at or by calling 101, quoting serial 1345 of 13/08."