Cats have disappeared from a small English town with pet owners fearing the animals have been abducted by a teen gang as part of a macabre initiation ritual.
Residents of Cinderford, near the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, have started a Facebook group to pool information about 11 kitten kidnappings.
Four years ago, Cinderford was rocked by five cat abductions in a short space of time – prompting a police investigation.
Budley, a cat aged 17, has the first to be attacked in the bizarre 2016 crime wave. He had to be put down after he was shot in his hind leg.
A short while later the body of a headless cat was discovered in a quiet sheltered housing cul-de-sac.
Officers said at the time they were working on the theory a group of teenagers were killing cats as part of an initiation ceremony.
And now locals say they fear it is happening again.
Paul Green, 47, has not seen his beloved, brown-and-white cat, Squiggle, since June 9.
The “frightened” security officer set up a Facebook page to help find the missing feline not long after he disappeared.
And Paul was shocked to discover that Squiggle is not the only cat to have gone missing from the small town.
In the month since Paul created the Facebook group “Help Find Squiggle, Cinderford”, 10 other cat owners in Cinderford say their felines have also disappeared.
Nala, Puss Puss, Jack, Thomas, Solar, Slinky, Smokey, Joe and Bella have all vanished over the past few weeks.
And dad-of-one Paul is concerned the cats are being deliberately taken – potentially by a teenage gang who terrorised Cinderford back in 2016.
The “Help Find Squiggle” Facebook group now has 186 members who are concerned about the welfare of Squiggle and the other missing cats.
The FB group says: “It now transpires there are several other missing cats within weeks and close proximity of each other, over a couple of months.”
Paul said: “It’s been quite frightening. It’s really, really stressful.
“Since Squiggle went missing there’s been 10 other cats that I’ve been made aware of that have also disappeared.
“Some people have said there’s been cable ties put around posts outside their homes – so I think there’s a strong possibility that the cats have been taken.
“There was a teenage gang in Cinderford a few years back who were going round mutilating cats and leaving them for dead – I don’t know if they’ve come back.
“But it’s really left a hole in our lives. It’s really getting to us now.”
During 2016 a vile gang made headlines after mutilating and viciously slaughtering pet cats around the town as part of a grim initiation ceremony.
They were either killed or suffered injuries so bad they’ve had to be put down.
In 2016 Gloucestershire Police said it had “received information this may be part of an initiation test for a local gang of teenagers” which was “deeply disturbing”.
Paul and his fiancee, Pauline Godwin, have been out every day since Squiggle disappeared, searching for the moggy and putting up posters and leaflets.
They even have a weekly slot on their local radio station to appeal to Cinderford residents to keep an eye out for him and the other missing cats.
He said his cat’s prolonged disappearance is “totally out of character”.
“He goes off on his little adventures, but he’s a creature of habit,” Paul said.
“Regular as a Timex watch, you can expect him to be standing outside the door, meowing to be let in for his dinner.
“It’ll be his fourth birthday on September 11, so he should be here with us. We’ve had him since he was a kitten.
“We would move mountains to get him back.”
Paul also mentioned the other missing felines, whose owners have also shared appeals on the Facebook page to keep an eye out for their pets.
He said: “There have been other cats which have also gone missing or been stolen – Nala is one of the cats, Puss Puss is another, Jack and Thomas, Solar, Slinky, Smokey, Joe and Bella.
“They just keep disappearing. No one has seen them.”
And he added he and Pauline are not the only ones suffering from the loss of Squiggle.
“It’s hit our dog, Smudge, really badly,” he said.
“She’s 14 years old now, and she really treated Squiggle like her own baby. She’s been really quite subdued.”