Owner of hairless cat, Princess, says theft from Shelton hotel was online 'set up,' warrant shows
Shelton — The owner of a recovered hairless cat named Princess stolen from a local hotel room earlier this year was likely "set up" by a woman she met online, an arrest warrant said.
A Florida woman was reunited with Princess last weekend when a Massachusetts resident came forward when she realized the cat she purchased for $1,300 in Bridgeport had been stolen.
"We appreciate the integrity of the female who purchased the cat for $1,300 and notified police once she learned the cat was stolen so the animal could go back to the rightful owner," Shelton Police Lt. Robert Kozlowsky said.
Toni Douglas-Alves and Zyair Lopez were charged in February with the hotel burglary even though police couldn't find the cat until the woman in Massachusetts came forward last week.
According to arrest warrants, Douglas-Alves who was staying with the Florida woman in the hotel room likely participated in the theft and later lied to police by claiming she didn't know Lopez or where he lived.
The Florida woman notified Shelton police on Jan. 22 — her birthday — that Princess and two designer handbags worth nearly $4,000 had been stolen from the room she was sharing with Douglas-Alves at the Hilton Garden Inn in Shelton, the warrant said.
The woman had come from Florida to spend time with Douglas-Alves, who she had met online six months earlier, police said in the warrant. The two women left the hotel room about 10:30 a.m. on Jan. 22 to get their nails done in anticipation of an evening out celebrating the woman's birthday, the warrant said.
But when they returned, the cat worth $3,000 and the Florida woman's Fendi and Gucci purses were gone, she told police, according to the warrant. Douglas-Alves also reported that she was missing a trendy bag containing about $1,000, the warrant said.
Police obtained hotel video that showed Douglas-Alves alone with a man in a Honda Elantra minutes before she left with the Florida woman to get their nails done, the warrant stated. Police later identified Lopez as the man in the video through his license plate, the warrant said.
Hotel cameras showed Lopez using a key to enter the building, going upstairs and then coming down with a pink blanket, which covered a cat whose ears were visible in the footage, the warrant said. He was also carrying a Target bag, which appeared to contain several items, the warrant stated.
The Florida woman told police she had paid a man named "Zy" to bring her to the hotel from New York the night before and that Douglas-Alves had his phone number. The woman later said that the more she thought about theft, she realized she had been "set up" by Douglas-Alves, according to the warrant.
Douglas-Alves denied helping Lopez steal the cat and claimed she didn't know where he lived in Bridgeport, the warrant stated.
But Shelton police said they were checking out a tip that Lopez lived in the area of Barnum Avenue near the Stratford and Bridgeport border and found his car and a vehicle registered to Douglas-Alves parked nearby, according to the warrant.
Officers called the superintendent of the building who told them Lopez lived in one of the apartments, the warrant said. When police knocked on the door, Douglas-Alves was with Lopez, the warrant said.
Douglas-Alves told police she asked Lopez for his address so she could confront him about the theft, but lied about when she had shown up, the warrant said.
Police obtained a search warrant for the apartment and discovered cat litter and cat food, but the animal was not there. Police said they are still investigating who sold Princess to the Massachusetts woman.
Lopez and Douglas-Alves were each charged with conspiracy to commit third-degree burglary, third-degree burglary, conspiracy to commit larceny and third-degree larceny. Both have been released on $10,000 bond. Douglas-Alves will appear in state Superior Court in Derby on May 30 and Lopez will appear on June 6.
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