Dusty the 'Klepto Kitty': San Mateo's notorious cat burglar remembered after 17 years of thievery

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Friday, March 24, 2023
San Mateo's Dusty the 'Klepto Kitty' remembered after 17 years
Dusty the "Klepto Kitty" is being remembered after 17 years of thievery. The notorious San Mateo cat burglar died earlier this month.

SAN MATEO, Calif. (KGO) -- A cat burglar from San Mateo became so infamous, he was known around the world.

Now, the Peninsula community can once again rest at night knowing their belongings are safe from the prolific thief -- but they also sleep with heavy hearts.

The beloved "Klepto Kitty," Dusty, died this month at 17 years old.

"It's been hard," Dusty's guardian Jean Chu said. "You kind of still expect to see him walk in and where he slept. But we'll get through it."

RELATED: 'Klepto Cat' becomes household name worldwide

Dusty first stole the hearts of viewers of ABC7 News back in 2011, when our own Vic Lee caught the cat burglar "red-pawed."

Night-vision security cameras and even a collar cam captured the thieving kitty scouring the neighborhood for goods.

He would go on to bring back more than 1,000 items as gifts for his guardians Jean Chu and James Coleman.

It's hard to believe that Dusty was meant to be an indoor cat. But, Chu said once he found the doggy door, it was over from there.

RELATED: 'Klepto Cat' serves as grand marshal of Burlingame Pet Parade

The legendary "Dusty the Klepto Kitty" served as the grand marshal of the annual Burlingame Pet Parade. Dusty made national headlines because he would routinely steal a wide variety of items from neighbors.

"Before he would bring stuff back, I would play fetch with him, which I was kind of amazed," Coleman said. "He was actually a better fetcher than the dogs. I don't know if that triggered his behavior or not."

As the number of items grew over the years, so too did Dusty's popularity.

He got the attention of news outlets all over the world: Japan, Germany, Australia, and even appeared on the David Letterman and Jay Leno Shows.

Dusty was loved by many, but his family became particularly close with Vic Lee, even making an appearance at his retirement party.

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Vic was able to visit Dusty recently -- one last time to say goodbye -- 12 years after Dusty's escapades went viral.

"He'd always recognize me, and he'd come over," Vic said. "Love at first sight. You saw this unique cat and you go, 'Wow. He's a star, and I'm going to make him a star.' He was just a loving, loving cat. I loved that cat."

Vic believes his spirit will still be felt by this community. Dusty's guardians hope that love and laughter will linger.

"I hope they just remember him as just a fun cat that went out and tried to bring presents home," Chu said. "It's been really amazing to us that this little cat could do that. He's a very special cat."

Rest in Peace, Dusty. You will be missed.

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