Anxious Croydon residents have raised £5000 since October in a bid to help catch the borough’s rumoured cat killer, amid fears that humans may be targeted next.
£2000 came from one local businessman after an appeal from South Norwood Animal Liberty and Rescue (SNARL), who need the money to pay for post-mortems on the animals.
Animal lovers fear that some 40 cats have been killed over two years.
The public donations came after the animal rights group PETA increased their original offer of £2000 to £5000 for anyone with information about the killer.
Boudicca Rising, the co-founder of SNARL, said: “The community doesn’t want somebody running around killing animals because at some point they’re going to start killing people. We’ve spoken to enough psychologists now to know this will scale up at some point.
“The community response has been absolutely amazing. We’ve got 60 leafleteers who go out every day and target specific areas. We are also in daily contact with police, sometimes two, three times a day, as new information comes in.
“It took the police a little while, but once they realised what was going on, they’ve been fantastic.”
SNARL has so fair paid for nine post-mortems, each costing around £500. Five have been returned so far with no traces of human DNA.
The Metropolitan police said yesterday: “We are currently awaiting the results of tests regarding the cause of death. These are likely to be completed in around a month [mid-March].”
They did not comment on the idea that the cat killer’s next victim could be a person.
They said: “The number of incidents linked to the investigation at this stage is in single figures.”
However, SNARL have been in contact with concerned victims of the cat killer in other places such as Surrey, Mitcham and Lambeth. Rising said: “We’ve got what look like other killings in Streatham and Finchley and are waiting on the post-mortem results to confirm this.”
The actor Martin Clunes, who went to school in Croydon, wrote to the Metropolitan Police to express his concern. Clunes said: “Research in psychology and criminology shows that people who commit acts of cruelty to animals don’t stop there – many of them move on to their fellow humans. That is a scary thought indeed.
“Because repeat crimes are the rule rather than the exception among animal abusers and given the malicious nature of these crimes, I implore you to take every measure necessary, including re-examining all available CCTV footage, to apprehend this dangerous criminal. The safety of the entire community depends on it.”
Other celebrities including Dermot O’Leary and Caroline Flack have tweeted their support, helping to spread the word of PETA’s reward offer. Indie band the Vamps even offered tour tickets to “the person who finds this scum”.
If you have any information please contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999, SNARL on 07957 830 490, the police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously.