TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A Hong Kong woman slipped through airport security earlier in February carrying two stolen cats around her midriff, feigning pregnancy.
She was able to make it back home with two Persian felines, each worth over NT$100,000 (US$3,200), which she had pilfered from the home of a Persian cat collector and breeder in New Taipei City.
The breach in airport security occurred on Feb. 5, the same day that the cats, named Anngi and Da Lili, a five month old female and a four month old male, were stolen.
Airport security footage release by Apple Daily shows the woman carrying a white bag and entering an airport bathroom, before emerging moments later looking more plump around her midriff.
By likely using some sleeping pills to keep the cats sedated, Lee was able to successfully convince security and airline employees that she was pregnant throughout the duration of her journey.
According to reports, the “cat burglar” is 35 year old cat lover, Alice Lee, who had previously been in contact with breeder Chang Chin-yi about purchasing Anngi. Chang is reportedly raising over 40 Persian cats in her New Taipei home, reports AFP.
Lee visited Chang’s apartment in January to discuss the purchase. However, after discovering that Lee was already raising five cats, with one recently purchased, Chang declined to make the sale out of concern for Lee’s ability to provide a caring home environment for Anngi.
Chang says that when she informed Lee of her decision to refuse the sale, that Lee was enraged and hysterical.
On Feb. 5, Chang entered the room where Anngi and Da Lili had been kept and discovered they were missing. A cut window screen indicated that an intruder had invaded the home to steal the kittens, and Lee was immediately suspected.
Chang immediately contacted Lee, who had since arrived back in Hong Kong. Lee initially denied the theft, but eventually, her daughter via Facebook messages acknowledged the crime.
Apple Daily contacted the Lee residence and Lee’s husband said that the cats are fine but have been taken away from Ms. Lee and are safe at a relative’s house.
Chang is reportedly heading for Hong Kong to seek the return of the cats and to possibly pursue legal action against Lee.
However, as AFP observes, the legal situation between Taiwan and Hong Kong, along with customs regulations regarding the transportation of pets, make it a very complicated situation.
First, according to Kong Kong customs procedure the cats must be quarantined for four months, or risk being euthanized, a legal regulation which Lee has already violated by smuggling the felines past customs.
Second, there is little to no possibility that Lee will face prosecution from Taiwan authorities, unless she returns to the country voluntarily. That means there is little chance Chang will be able to secure financial remuneration for the stolen cats, or possible charges of home invasion.
However, Lee will probably face charges in Hong Kong stemming from the act of smuggling animals and violating customs.
Chang will likely try to come to some arrangement with the Hong Kong authorities in order to expedite the return of Anngi and Da Lili to Taiwan.