ESSEX, UK – Sarah Graham-Ward’s three-year-old Tonkinese cat, Darcy, disappeared just more a week ago and despite searching the local area and putting up posters and appealing on social media there has been no sign of the missing cat.
Things took a more sinister turn when Mrs Graham-Ward received a phone call demanding £300, ($425,) for the cat’s safe return.
The family brought the unusual and valuable cat back with them from Singapore two and a half years ago along with her brother Mr Jones.
Mrs Graham-Ward, said: “She always comes home before it gets dark. She never stays out.
“I started to panic so I contacted Pet Search South East that night. They put a picture of her on their website, on Facebook and Twitter.
“I downloaded posters and put them through everybody’s door in my street and other roads and into shops.”
They heard nothing until Tuesday, when a man called saying he had Darcy and proceeded to demand money.
She said: “He asked, ‘how much did you pay to bring her back from Singapore’. I said ‘excuse me’, he then repeated himself and said he had Darcy. He said he wanted £300.
“I was trying to listen to every word. I couldn’t believe I was getting this call.”
Mrs Graham-Ward refused to pay when the caller failed to provide actual evidence he actually had her cat and she was still alive.
She went on to explain: “He said, ‘that’s fine, I will just get rid of her’. It could mean two things, he could sell her or kill her.”
The stay-at-home mother immediately called police.
The 37-year-old said: “It’s mad to hold a cat at ransom. It’s ridiculous. I assume that it’s someone living close to me.
“It’s so sad somebody feels they have the right to do what they’ve done. It’s a bit baffling. There are some dodgy characters round here.
“What right does her have to hold her? She’s my property. It’s theft.” The cat is unusual looking with distinctive features – cream with a grey tail and grey ears.
“We have three children that are desperately missing her. For me it’s like they’ve taken my child.
“I don’t know if she’s in Essex but I want to do everything I can to get her back and to let people know what is going on.“
A spokeswoman for the Essex Police said: “Police have received a report and are looking to see if any offences have occurred.
“We receive calls to around 1,200 incidents every day. We cannot attend every one and so we send our officers to see those who are in danger, at risk or vulnerable first.”