Published: 09:10, 10 November 2017
A notorious cat killer who has slaughtered animals throughout southern England could start attacking humans, police have warned.
Originally dubbed the Croydon Cat Killer, the brutal killings of dozens of cats in south London have spread - including to Kent - and now involve other animals.
Officers from the Metropolitan Police launched an investigation two years ago, but since then, more than 360 cats, foxes and rabbits have been found dead.
Usually they are missing limbs and body parts and are returned to the area to be found by shocked residents and neighbours.
Det Sgt Andy Collin, a detective working on the Met's Operation Takahe, told Sky News although there is no direct risk to people, the killings could escalate.
He said: "There is a known link between serial killers and harming animals when you look into their dark history.
"If you look at offending patterns, the assumption is this killer is getting some form of gratification.
"The concern is they will cease getting that gratification and escalate the attacks to humans, specifically vulnerable women and girls."
Just this week another report was made after Tilly, a nine-year-old cat, was found dead in a neighbour's garden in Maidstone with her tail cut off.
A year ago, Bengal cat Rosie was discovered in a similar state in the town.
She is just one of dozens of incidents which are forming part of the investigation into the UK animal killer.
Last month police linked the death of five rabbits near Dartford to the killer.
A charity helping police with their investigation, South Norwood Animal Rescue and Liberty (SNARL), has advised people to make sure their pets are inside, particularly at night.
Tony Jenkins, who runs the charity in south London, said the crimes had taken over his life over the past two years.
"It has a huge effect on communities. Everyone is terrified to let their cats out," he said.
"We’re starting to put some pieces in the jigsaw. Forensics will be important not just to continue to prove that these attacks are done by a human but we might gather some DNA that might give us a lead on the investigation.
"It’s a much wider area than Croydon, that’s why we call him the UK animal killer because it’s foxes and rabbits as well and other animals, we’ve had a couple of swans beheaded.
"It’s widespread and very frequent."
No suspects have ever been arrested but Mr Jenkins says they are not ruling out the possibility of a network of killers.
"Obviously [they are] a psychopath, I’d say he’s probably got sociopathic tendencies because the way he displays them in order to cause maximum impact and horror. He puts them near schools. He’s a very dangerous person.
"It’s very unusual for two members of the public who run a small animal rescue to be so much a part of the investigation working daily with the police. I think it’s a unique situation."
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