Beds, Herts & Bucks

'Croydon cat killer': Harpenden and Luton rabbit attacks 'linked'

Elmo Image copyright Donna Leal
Image caption Grey rabbit Elmo was found in a flower bed in his owner's garden in Harpenden

The mutilation and deaths of two pet rabbits could be the latest work of the so-called Croydon cat killer, according to animal lovers.

Grey rabbit Elmo was found in a flower bed in his owner's garden in Longfield Road, Harpenden, on 8 November.

Rabbit Casper was found in her owner's Luton garden on Friday.

Animal charity Snarl, which is investigating hundreds of violent UK cat and rabbit deaths, said both deaths were being linked to its probe.

The Met Police began investigating a series of "gruesome" killings which initially began in the Croydon area in 2015, under the name Operation Takahe, after Snarl (South Norwood Animal Rescue and Liberty) raised concerns. The suspect became known as the "Croydon cat killer".

Image copyright Amber Hunt
Image caption Casper's body was discovered in her owner's flowerbed

Of the latest deaths, Tony Jenkins, head of Snarl, said: "We've included them in the investigation because they've quite clearly been cut up by a human.

"Whether it's the same person who has been killing cats, we can't be certain, it's impossible to tell if it's one person being prolific or if there are more people involved.

"But if it turns out there is more than one person involved, we're hoping to catch them all."

The cat killer stalking suburbia

Hertfordshire Police said it could not confirm whether the death of Elmo was being linked to the wider inquiry but "several lines of inquiry" were being explored and a post-mortem examination would take place.

The animal's head and front legs had been cut off.

Owner Donna Leal said: "I just can't get over the fact that someone has climbed into our garden with a weapon and done this to our family pet probably while we were metres away in the house.

"I can't sleep, I'm so scared they'll come back."

Luton rabbit Casper's owner Amber Hunt said she heard a "squeal" and a "scrabbling" noise in the early hours of Friday, which she thought was a cat fight.

She found Casper's mutilated body in her flower bed when she got up.

The rabbit's head and front legs were also missing.

"We took her to the vets where they confirmed this has been done by a human," she said.

Bedfordshire Police has confirmed it has received a report about a dead rabbit found in Luton which is being linked to the wider investigation.

The Hertfordshire death follows a number of others in the area. Two weeks ago, the dismembered body of rabbit Teddy was found by his owner in his cage in her garden in Harpenden, and last week Snarl linked the death of Chip in Watford to the others.

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