You’d be forgiven for thinking you’d just seen Pennywise the Clown had you been roaming the streets of Queensland’s Moreton Bay region in March this year.
Except for the fact that the frightening clown you saw wasn’t actually preying on children, but rather, dogs.
Indeed, in what can only be described as outright bizarre, Brendon Meares, a 33-year-old father from Deception Bay, decided he would don a clown mask and proceed to break into an RSPCA animal shelter in order to land himself a new puppy.
Perhaps forgetting that stealing another person’s dog is a crime, as is breaking and entering someone else’s property, the man cut through two padlocks at the Dakabin Animal Care Campus and strolled inside.
Now standing before a selection of puppies, Mr Meares set his eyes on his prize: a small four-month-old Staffordshire cross by the name of Cashew.
Within moments, the dog thief the pooch wrapped in his arms, ready to abscond the scene, still wearing the creepy clown mask.
What Mr Meares failed to notice, however, was that his antics were being captured on CCTV footage, which showed him forcing his way into the animal shelter and using an angle grinder to break into a metal cage to claim Cashew.
Whacky Excuse Surfaces as Man is Arrested for Stealing Dog
On March 23, only days after the incident took place, police were able to track down the dog thief at a north Brisbane home.
There, they also located Cashew, before arresting the man and questioning him.
When asked why the father stole the dog, he simply said it was because he thought it belonged to his friend.
He eventually admitted to the March 19 dognapping and was ordered to attend court over the matter.
During Mr Meares’ court appearance, it was heard the man and his friend allegedly visited the animal shelter the day prior to the theft and took photos of little Cashew.
Together, they then concocted a plan to steal her.
Mr Meares was slapped with a $500 fine for the offence and ordered to pay $250 in damages.
In handing down the fine, the magistrate told the man it was illogical for him to have been carelessly led into the theft under the pretence of the dog belonging to his friend.
As for Cashew, after being seized by police, she was quickly reunited with her carers and has since been rehomed.
It is understood that prior to her dognapping, the young puppy had undergone surgery and required daily medication, prompting concerns from the RSPCA about her welfare.
Speaking on the matter, RSPCA Queensland spokesperson, Emma Lagoon, said Cashew was back in caring hands, labelling her tribulation as “traumatic”.
“We are absolutely thrilled that Cashew has been brought back into care and cannot thank the Police and members of the public enough for their concern and help in getting Cashew back to the RSPCA,” Ms Lagoon said.
“After her traumatic ordeal we’re happy to say she’ll be able to finally go home with her new adopter very soon.”
As most would reason, stealing another person’s dog is a heartless act.
Beyond this, it is actually against the law, with the crime falling into the broad category of stealing offences.
In NSW, the crime of stealing another person’s dog is pursuant to section 503 of the Crimes Act 1900.
In this section, it is outlined that a person who steals any dog shall, on conviction by the Local Court, be liable to six months in jail, or a fine of $550, or both.
But the potential to face penalties for the offence don’t end there.
Simply being in possession of a stolen dog can land you in trouble with the law.
In NSW, section 504 of the Crimes Act 1900 makes clear that if you unlawfully have in your possession any stolen dog, or the skin of any such dog, knowing the dog to have been stolen, then, on conviction by the Local Court, you can be liable to pay a fine of $550.
Defences to a stealing dog offence include where you genuinely thought you were lawfully entitled to the dog, and duress.
Click here for more on stealing offences in New South Wales.
By Sahar Adatia.