Leeds & West Yorkshire

Fox behind Leeds footwear theft crimewave

Fox Image copyright Elaine Hewitt
Image caption The fox is now stealing one shoe a day from neighbouring houses

A fox is stealing dozens of shoes in a Leeds suburb and dumping them outside a woman's house.

The problem has become so bad that Elaine Hewitt has been forced to put a shoe rack outside her home in Horsforth so neighbours can reclaim their missing footwear.

Ms Hewitt said the vulpine crimewave began a few months ago when she found a single shoe in her back garden.

The fox is now leaving a shoe a day, ranging from sandals to work boots.

Ms Hewitt, who has seen the fox carrying shoes, said the animal favoured leather footwear and the shoes are not chewed or damaged.

She believed it was stealing gardening shoes left outside people's homes.

"First of all we just collected them thinking they were too good to throw in the bin," she said.

Image caption Elaine Hewitt has put a table outside her house so neighbours can retrieve their stolen shoes.

"When the pile grew we did a little notice.

"We had a few phone calls from that and were able to give back and match up a couple of pairs.

"Then I decided the fox was a further afield than just around our immediate vicinity which is when I decided to put the table out on the street.

"The number of vehicles and passers-by who stopped to ask about it, to look and also to take their shoes back was absolutely astounding."

The fox appears to be the mother of five cubs and Ms Hewitt said she hoped the younger members of the family would not be taught about the shoe stealing habit.

More on this story