THONOTOSASSA (FOX 13) - A local business owners is desperately searching for his beloved pet who was stolen by two of his own customers.
Joseph Cain, owner of the plant nursery Artisans Bonsai on East Fowler Avenue, watched surveillance video from his business last Tuesday when he could not find his cat, "Cali."
Cain was shocked to see a male and female customer grab his cat and stash her in their red SUV as he helped them shop for a plant for the woman's father.
"The girl just walks to the car and puts her in the car, and then they come back and talk to me for 20 or 30 minutes. The whole time my cat is in the car, and I don't even know it," said Cain. "I'm real nice and helpful, answering their questions, and this is the way I get treated?"
Cain said watching the theft on camera felt like watching his own child being abducted. He rescued Cali and her brother "Bo" when they were kittens after they were found in a family members attic.
Cain said he has been inseparable from the cats ever since. They typically roam his plant nursery as he works during the day and greet customers.
"All the customers love them. The first thing they want to know is where's Bo and Cali?" said Cain.
Cain said the cat snatchers even commented on the beauty of his cats, which has led him to believe they did not mistake Cali as a stray.
Cain has released pictures from his surveillance video on social media. He is pleading with anyone who recognizes the couple to contact him at https://www.artisansbonsai.com/findcali/cali.htm
Cain filed a theft report with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. In some instances, based on the value of the animal, stealing a pet can be a felony charge. Cain said he would be willing to look the other way if the suspects just bring Cali back home.
"If they decide they want to bring my cat back, they can walk away," said Cain.
Anyone with information on the missing cat can contact Joseph Cain at firstname.lastname@example.org.