The cat that was stolen from a Utica Street home in Brockport has been found and returned home safely.
In an amazing display of humanity, the entire SUNY Brockport college community turned out to find the cat that was stolen by three college students on Monday night.
I call the cat “Uglier” because she is not the beautiful white, orange, and black calico I thought I was getting from the Gerhardy’s farm 18 years ago. The rest of my family calls her “Java”, and you can call her anything you want, as long as you pet her.
Here’s how Uglier was rescued and returned home.
This morning I went to the UPS Store in Wegman’s plaza and paid to have them print 500 color flyers about the stolen cat. It cost me a lot of money, but it was worth it.
Then I took a big handful of flyers and walked toward the campus to start handing out flyers. On the way, I handed a flyer to everyone I met.
The most common response I got was, “Why would anyone steal a cat?
The best answer I could come up with was that they were either smoking dope, drunk as a skunk, just plain stupid, or a combination of all three.
When I gave a flyer to a tall heavy set young man wearing a blue t-shirt and jeans, he said, “You’re the man who lives around the corner. I love your fu_ _ ing cat. I pet her all the time. If you give me another one of those, I’ll share it with the fraternity across the street.”
When I got on campus, I headed for the Seymour Union because it’s right near the corner of the campus and there are usually a lot of students there.
As I was handing out flyers I would say, “My cat was stolen by three college students Monday night and another college student saw them do it. If you see my cat, call me. When you’re finished with the flyer pass it on to someone else.”
The students, both male and female, were very polite and many of them expressed their concern for the safety and well-being of my cat. Some even said that they had seen the flyers that some college students who live near me had posted on campus yesterday.
Then, suddenly, a young woman leaving the Seymour Union walked up to me and said, “I have information about your cat. I saw him yesterday outside Harrison.”
She looked at the photo on the flyer and said, “That’s him. That’s the cat I saw.” For some reason she thought the cat was male.
She said she had seen the cat on Tuesday outside the Harrison dining hall, where students were petting her and feeding her. She told me that she had seen the cat in the bushes on the left side of Harrison. I asked her where Harrison was and she pointed me in the right direction.
In the meantime, a fairly decent size group of students had gathered around, and as I walked away many of them wished me luck and hoped I find my cat.
As I walked across campus heading for Harrison, I tried to hand a flyer to every student I passed. But there were simply too many students, and it amazing how quickly you can give away 100 flyers on campus as the students walk between classes.
On the way, another student said he had seen the cat outside Harrison yesterday, so I quickened my pace.
When I got to the front of the Harrison dining hall, I looked to the left and saw the bushes she had told me about. I walked over and handed my last flyer to a young man and woman who were sitting on the concrete ledge by the bushes.
He immediately said, “I saw this cat yesterday. I was petting her.”
I said, “Where?” He turned and pointed to the ground six inches away and said, “Right here.” The young woman said she had been petting the cat too.
I had run out of flyers so I had to go back home and get some more. I also had a hot lead so I had to call the police and let them know, because they were out looking for my cat.
So I ran home, a distance of about 8-tenths of a mile.
Now I ran track in college for legendary Olympic Track Coach George Eastment, but that was 47 years ago. But somehow it felt good to run home on a mission to save my cat, and I ran easily and smoothly, a lot more easily and smoothly than I had run in a long, long time.
When I got home I called the Brockport Police, told them what I knew, then I took the rest of the 500 flyers and headed back toward campus. I walked, I didn’t run. There was no way I could have run. I had no energy left.
So I walked and handed flyers to every student I could. At least a half dozen said they had seen my cat outside Harrison last night, so I kept on walking.
Then my phone rang. It was Officer Mike DeToy and he wanted to know where I was because he and Officer Steve Mesiti were at Harrison waiting for me.
I told him I was on the other end of campus walking toward them as fast as I could, and handing out flyers.
Suddenly, about fifteen feet in front of me a young woman pointed at me as a huge smile spread across her face. When she reached me she said, “I have your cat.” She had recognized the cat in the photo on the flyer.
Her name is Katie Allen, and she was rushing off to class, but she took a moment to blurt out the story. She had seen the cat outside Harrison where people were petting it and feeding it.
She could tell it was not a stray cat, and she had heard some students in her dorm talking about how they stolen a cat, so she put two and two together and decided to do something about the situation before something bad happened to the cat.
Then my phone rang again, as she said something about how she took the cat to her father’s house on route 19. (At least that’s what I thought she said.)
I gave her a flyer and asked her to text me so we could meet after her class. Then I answered my phone again and told the police officers what was happening. Katie Allen texted me twice: once to say “found the cat” and the other to tell me her name.
Then she ran off to class and I walked down to Harrison where I met Officer DeToy and Officer Mesiti. I told them the story, gave them her name and phone number, then Officr Mesiti drove me home, where I sent out an email saying I thought I had found my cat.
As I sat on my front porch waiting for her call or text to say her class was over. Students walking by kept asking me if I’d found my cat.
Several people asked me if I thought she was the one who stole my cat, but I answered that the moment I saw the immense smile on her face, and heard the joy in her voice, I knew she had found my cat, not stolen it.
When I didn’t get a call after an hour and a half, I texted Katie and asked if she was out of class yet.
Five minutes later my phone rang and a when I answered, a man said, “I’m the man who has your cat. I’ll be home in ten minutes.”
He told me where he lived in Clarkson, and after we hung up, I Googled the address and then got in the car and headed for his house.
When I got there he walked out of the house into his garage holding my cat Uglier.
It turns out that he was not Katie’s father, but rather a 34 year old Iraq War vet who had grown up in the same neighborhood in Greece, NY that Katie grew up in, and they had known each other for years and years.
We talked for a while, because the cat was so comfortable in his arms, purring away like mad. As we were talking I got a phone call from a female student who had seen my flyer and wanted to tell me that she had seen my cat on campus. She was overjoyed when I told her I had found the cat.
When I got Uglier home, she curled up on the floor and went to sleep. So I sat on the front porch and told everyone who asked, that I had found my cat. I also sent out a bunch of text messages and emails to notify as many people as I could.
Just after 9:00PM, I got another call, this time from a male student who had seen one of my flyers, and he wanted to tell me where he had seen my cat. He was also happy that I had found the cat.
Well actually, I didn’t find my cat. Katie Allen found my cat.
But this web page isn’t big enough to list all the people who helped to find that cat. I owe them all an immense thank you.
Ariel, the female college student, who lives down the street, first confirmed that the cat had in fact been stolen. CJ, her roommate, saw the cat being stolen and was able to provide the police and I with an accurate description of what happened and where the thieves might have gone.
Without their help my cat would never have been found.
In the beginning, when I said my cat had been stolen, too many people asked “How do you know?” However, because I could tell people that a college student had witnessed the cat theft and overheard the thieves, people started to believe that someone had actually stolen my cat.
In my walks through the village I literally talked to thousands of SUNY Brockport students, and they responded wonderfully by spreading the word so it went viral across campus and throughout the village. It has given me a completely different view of SUNY Brockport students.
The Brockport Police Department did an outstanding job of investigating the theft and spreading the word on the streets of Brockport. I owe a special thank you to Police Chief Daniel Varrenti, Office Mike DeToy, and Officer Steve Mesiti for their work on this case.
Many of the residents of Brockport and many of the staff of SUNY Brockport reached out to help. I have gotten phone calls and emails from people I have never met offering me encouragement.
The list could go on forever.
The way people responded turned a rotten situation into a heart warming experience.