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Monday, 10 June, 2002, 11:38 GMT 12:38 UK
Police hunt 'criminal' chimp
Chimpanzee
A chimp was seen leaving the scene
Police in London are hunting a chimpanzee reported to have broken into a flat and stolen a mobile phone and electrical equipment.

Officers received reports of burglaries at 0745 BST and 0840 BST on Sunday at separate addresses in Gore Road, Hackney, east London.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "Only small items of personal property, a mobile phone and parts of a stereo system, were stolen.


It's weird - I don't know whether to believe it or not

Victim, Tony Morgan

"The caller of the second burglary confirmed to police he had seen an ape disappearing from the premises."

Mustapha Riat said he had been woken in his ground-floor flat on Sunday morning to find a large figure with five-foot hairy arms towering over him.

"I saw this hairy black chimpanzee coming through," the 43-year-old teacher told The Sun newspaper.

"It was broad and muscular. I was frightened of being bitten."

'Greatest minds'

The first raid had been just 20 doors away at a ground-floor flat belonging to Gina Davidson, according to The Sun.

"The DVD player was moved and a watch missing," the 23-year-old told the newspaper.

"Police dusted my flat for fingerprints - but how will that help catch a chimp?"

The police spokesman said a fair at the nearby sprawling Victoria Park had been checked for apes but "they have not got any".

"We have our greatest minds on this one," he said.

Another resident, Tony Morgan, said he thought the chimpanzee may have got into his home.

"When I got up on Sunday all the stuff was on the floor in the middle of the room, so I know someone got in to nick something but whether it was chimpanzee I don't know," he told the BBC.

'Weird' case

"The bloke down the road said he had been robbed by a chimpanzee.

"I just thought it was a wind-up, but when I looked at the window and the way it was open I began to think it was true.

"When the woman came down to take finger prints she couldn't get prints - they were all smudges.

"It's weird. I don't know whether to believe it or not."

Police said they did not disbelieve people who thought they had been woken up by a chimpanzee.

They are looking for a suspect who is three-foot tall with a large amount of luxuriant dark hair.

Officers are advising residents not to leave large bowls of bananas in prominent positions and to leave their windows closed.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jake Lynch
"Police are keeping an open mind"
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