By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.
It was the callous moment a woman in Adelaide, posing as a Good Samaritan, stole a new staffy puppy right from its owner’s arms in broad daylight before speeding off to escape the scene.
Animal lover, Rhiannon Green, had become parent to the Staffordshire bull terrier puppy for merely six days when she fell victim to the dognapping incident at her home at Davoren Park in Adelaide’s north.
Ms Green bought the puppy for $1,300 from a Facebook group just before Christmas last year, spending all of her savings, including the cash she had saved from the coronavirus bonuses.
She decided to name her Erin after her favourite women’s football player and shared photos and videos of the dog on social media.
Less than a week after bringing the puppy home, Ms Green started to receive messages from a stranger on Facebook offering to donate her free pet supplies, including bedding and dog food.
The mystery woman then contacted the new puppy owner again suggesting she drop the supplies off one coming morning, leaving Ms Green to take up what she believed was a genuine offer.
Nevertheless, when the woman turned up, things were not as they seemed.
CCTV footage captured the incident which exposed the woman approaching Ms Green’s door and dropping several bags of food to her.
However, once her hands were full, the bogus Good Samaritan quickly seized the staffy.
Armed with the stolen puppy, the anonymous woman swiftly paced down the driveway and entered a white Subaru in which a male driver was waiting with a child inside.
Despite Ms Green trying to chase her down, within a few moments, they had managed to flee the scene.
Heartbroken Puppy Owner Says Stolen Dog Has Affected the Whole Family; Would “Give Anything” to Have Pup Back Home
A heartbroken Ms Green spoke to 9News about the incident and said she’d “give anything” to have her joyful puppy back home.
She described the moment the mysterious woman turned up on her doorstep.
“She was just rambling ‘I just want to hold her for a sec’,” Ms Green said.
“I was like ‘No!’ and my big dog has come outside. I grabbed the dog food, and she’s just ran.
“It was 35-degree day and I’m trying not to let her to go any further… I was screaming, ‘stop, hey, wait, don’t, bring her back’.
“I chucked my big dog inside and she was gone.”
The moment Ms Green got back inside her house, she simply broke down.
She said she paid for the dog with all the cash she had “saved from the coronavirus bonuses”.
Since the staffy was stolen, Ms Green revealed her other dog has taken to quietly nestling in his tiny bed, while the loss had impacted the whole family.
She expressed her uncertainty as to why she became the victim to the woman, however she has theories about the puppy pincher.
In particular, Ms Green believes the Facebook page she bought the puppy from may have actually been “dodgy” and perhaps even connected to the snatch.
She also contemplated the culprit may be a serial Christmas burglar.
“She was so smooth about it, it would not surprise me if she’s done it multiple times. I’m just hoping she hasn’t done this to anyone else,” Ms Green said.
“In the beginning I thought it had something to do with the past owners. But now I think she’s a serial Christmas thief.”
Following the incident, Ms Green contacted police and even made a second visit to the police station to follow up the matter.
She has since pleaded for the thief to return the pup and also reached out to the public to help solve the mystery, saying her pets are like her children.
“I don’t think I’ll ever have children, these are my children,” Ms Green said.
“It’s like giving birth to a newborn and she (puppy Erin) has been ripped from my arms. I tried to save her and tried give her a good life she deserved.”
It is important to note that stealing another person’s dog is actually against the law.
If you are in NSW, the law on dog theft is reflected in Section 503 of the Crimes Act 1900, which makes clear that if you steal any dog, upon conviction by the Court, you can face imprisonment for up to six months, or a fine of $550, or both.
Additionally, as per section 504, if you are caught simply possessing a stolen dog or its skin, knowing the dog to have been stolen, on conviction by the Court you can be liable to pay a fine of $550.
It is also against the law to steal another person’s dog and then return it for a profit where the owner has offered money as a reward for the dog’s recovery.
Here, a person who takes money or accepts a reward in exchange for returning a stolen dog can face imprisonment for one year.
Dog Theft on the Rise: How to Protect Your Pooch from Pilfering Hands
With the frequency of dog theft on the rise, the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) has suggested several tips to help protect your pooch from being pinched.
These include to treat your pet as if it were your child, to ensure your pet is not visible from the street, to have your pet microchipped, and to hire only professionals when looking for pet-care providers.
In particular, it is recommended to act with caution when it comes to overly inquisitive strangers.
It is believed pet thieves have a tendency to try to work out how much your dog is worth in order to determine whether to steal it.
As such, when it comes to strangers, it is advised to be restrained with your dog’s information and divert from detailed questions.
Have a question on this topic? Speak to our expert criminal lawyers based in Sydney today.