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'El Gato', popular cat cafe robbed in north Houston

HOUSTON - Six cats went missing after an overnight break in at a popular cat café, and the owners believe surveillance video shows the thief.

Volunteers spent Wednesday looking for the cats around the El Gato Coffeehouse in the Woodland Heights area, which houses adoptable cats until they find a forever home.

As of late Wednesday afternoon, all but one had been found around the property.

Owners believe Wink, a female long-hair seal point Siamese cat surrendered by her owner after Hurricane Harvey, is also close by.

“The nightmares at night that I’ve had since opening this have been a cat getting out,” said Renee Reed, founder of El Gato Coffeehouse, which opened last April. “So, this has been my largest nightmare.”

Reed said she rushed over to her coffeehouse around 7:30 a.m. Wednesday after her landlord texted her surveillance images of an unknown man on the property taken just before 4 a.m.

“It looks like a person was looking for a hide-a-key or looking for some type of way that they could get in,” said Reed.

She said she found a broken lock on the back gate, a broken window on the back room, and the back door left open. She says money was taken from both the cash register and a donation jar, and six out of their ten adoptable cats from nonprofit Friends for Life were missing.

“They are very much our babies,” said Reed, who does not believe the suspect took them. “That’s absolutely the most terrifying thing.”

Since then, volunteers like Pam Newton, Friends for Life Adoption Manager, have set traps with aroma-rich foods, including fried chicken, and literally crawled through the mud searching for the cats.

“We’re gonna do whatever it takes,” said Newton. “We think these cats are worth it.”

“We will get her,” said Reed, who says volunteers will be staking out traps throughout the night to find Wink.

Reed also is asking that would-be volunteers avoid coming to the café because the extra noise from additional people could scare away Wink.

Victor Senties, a spokesperson for the Houston Police Department, asks anyone with information on the break-in to call HPD’s Burglary Unit at 713 308-0900 or CrimeStoppers at 713-222-TIPS

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