Owners of a real-life cat burglar have been left red-faced after their mischievous feline started stealing underwear from neighbours' homes.

Two-year-old Norris has been pinching a number of goodies - including a huge pile of knickers - from neighbours' gardens, washing lines and houses, and sneaking it in through his cat flap at night.

"He was well behaved up to the age of one, then he turned to a life of petty crime," said graphic designer Richard Windsor.

"Over the last four months, he has really started to up his game.

"Initially it was dusters and dish cloths but this has now intensified to clothes, including bras, pants and T-shirts."

Windsor and wife Sophie, of Bedminster, Bristol, are now trying to reunite the items with their owners and have delivered letters explaining Norris's rampant kleptomania.

"At first we thought it was funny. But as his stash grew and the items got bigger we thought we needed to return them. ­

"It is not as if they are high-value items, but they all belong to someone..

"Fortunately all our neighbours have been very good natured about it and think it is funny. At least now they know where to come if something disappears mysteriously.'

According to his owners, Norris prefers to embark on his crime spree at night. His owners hope that by ignoring him when he returns home with his stolen loot, he will kick the habit.

Richard added: "We have started to ignore him when he comes in meowing with his goodies. We hope he'll stop doing it.

"There are lots of other cats in the area which I guess means there is not much wildlife around to hunt. So Norris chooses to steal stuff instead to pass the time."