Monkey Business

Here's a tale for the insurance investigators. London resident Mustapha Riat claims his flat was burgled, and his mobile phone stolen, by a large, hairy ape.

But Riat may not be totally bananas. The miscreant, thought to be a chimpanzee from the description given by the victim, is also the primate suspect in another burglary case in a house nearby, where part of a stereo unit and a watch were stolen. No fruit was reported missing.

Police suspect that someone has trained the chimp to thieve, though not necessarily to target handsets.

But chimps don't need any training to snatch the latest mobile form factors. In July 2001, staff at the Blair Drummond Safari Park in Stirling, Scotland, started getting crank calls – with full heavy breathing and snuffling – during the night, according to a story on ABCNews.com.

Only when one zookeeper shouted back and heard an inhuman shriek from the caller did they check the chimpanzee enclosure, where they found 11-year-old Chippy pressing the redial button on a handset lost by one of the staff. Chippy the Dip had pickpocketed the mobile from a jacket left next to the bars of his enclosure.

So next time you wonder if your phone is in a cab or down the back of the sofa, think whether you've been to the local zoo recently – and whether your friends with caller ID have been avoiding you lately.

— Ray Le Maistre, European Editor, Unstrung
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