A Rockford woman is warning other pet owners to keep an eye on their animals — after she says her cat was stolen.

We spoke to that woman and an animal shelter to find out what you can do to keep your pets safe

The woman says her cat was stolen right off her front porch here in Rockford. She caught the incident on camera and now says the man continues to approach her home.

“They got camera footage of gentleman coming right up on the porch and he snatched my cat – one of my cats – we have him on camera and his car was just out of view to where we couldn’t get his plate number,” said Melissa Opperman.

The security video shows the man walk up to the porch as he appears to be looking for something. He disappears off camera and then returns holding a small, black cat.

When he reaches the sidewalk, he stops and looks as if he is inspecting it. Then he speeds off in his car.

“He didn’t have an animal with him because all the animals were with me back behind the house and I chased him out and I got his plate number. That’s when we turned everything over to the Rockford Police,” said Opperman.

Opperman is warning other pet owners to be careful.

“Watch your animals, don’t let them roam free, and even if you have them out on your yard on a chain – you still have to watch over them. It’s like having your children outside,” sad Opperman.

She suspects the man could be stealing the pets for a specific reason.

“We think that it’s some type of dog-fighting ring because they use cats for mostly bait, instigations, you know,” added Opperman.

Roberta Shoaf is the president of The Barn on Baseline, a nearby animal shelter. She says the large pet demand could be another reason for animal theft.

“I think there are probably people taking advantage of that and taking pets to sell them on social media,” said Shoaf. “Having them be supervised whenever they’re outside would be beneficial – if the dog is with you on a lease – then nobody can take it.”

We reached out to police about the investigation. They tell us they cannot confirm anything until later