Case of the Hitchin chipmunk chase

A gang of chipmunks made a bid for freedom from a Hitchin pet shop this week leading to a day long chase by police, a ranger and dozens of traders and shoppers to capture them.

The six stripy rodents had the combined force of animal catchers coaxing, calling and cajoling on Monday after they made a break from the Forget-me-not pet store in Hitchin.

Alvin, Theodore, Tiny Tim, Pip, Poppy and Daisy managed to get out of their cage and either under the door, or through suspected holes in the walls.

They then proceeded to get on the roof, gambol about St Mary’s churchyard and run up and down the street.

When owner Steff Beedel arrived in the morning there were “more people outside than we get in a normal day”.

She added: “We had a town ranger, two community police officers and other people all trying to catch them. We had so many people help us.”

Five of the little critters were finally caught by the end of the day, but one, a baby, could not be found.

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“We thought he wouldn’t survive the night, we thought a rat might get him. But we caught him on the roof the next morning with a rat trap and some water.

“It’s amazing we have all of them back. We think when we closed the cage we didn’t shut it properly. I really want to say a big thank you to everyone.”

The little squirrel-like animals, which are the shop’s own pets, are now back safely inside where Steff hopes they will stay put.

“They are none the worse for wear, it’s as if they are thinking we have had an outing and now we are back.”