One minute is all it took for a beloved pet dog to be stolen by a stranger from her owner.
“Atlas” the Japanese Spitz, known for being a “big, fat, friendly ball of fur” was taken from the property of her owner, Elise Pham, who resides in Fairfield in southwest Sydney.
On Sunday 15 August 2021, Ms Pham was leaving her house with her five-year-old dog when she realised she’d forgotten an item.
So, she quickly walked back inside her house to grab it, leaving Atlas in the front yard.
But, barely gone for a minute, by the time she returned, Atlas had been taken away.
A distraught Ms Pham reported her stolen dog to police straight away.
Officers reviewed CCTV from the surrounding area, which led them to the discovery of a woman in her 20s who Atlas had approached in the brief moment her owner stepped inside the house.
In the footage, the woman could be seen crouched by her car.
Within seconds, she then allegedly seized the dog, put her inside the car, then quickly drove off.
Police Attend Home in Bossley Park and Discover Atlas the Dog Inside
Following investigations, the following Tuesday, police attended a home on Mimosa Road in Bossley Park.
Inside, they spoke to a woman and soon discovered Atlas.
The 23-year-old was arrested and charged with steal dog, possess stolen dog or skin of stolen dog.
She was also charged with failing to comply with any other wear face covering directive.
The woman was granted conditional bail and given a court attendance notice for Fairfield Local Court.
In NSW, it is against the law to steal another person’s dog and the penalties for an offence can even include jail time. This is another type of stealing offence in NSW.
This is set out in section 503 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), which states that if you steal another person’s dog, you can face a maximum penalty of six months in jail, or a $550 fine, or both.
Further to this, it is also an offence to merely possess a stolen dog, while to be in possession of its skin where you know the dog has been stolen, can also land you in trouble.
This is outlined in section 504 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), which advises a maximum penalty of a $550 fine for the offence.
Additionally, according to NSW law, it is also an offence to steal another person’s dog and then request a profit for its return where the owner has offered a monetary reward for the dog being given back.
For an offence of this nature, there is a maximum penalty of one year in jail.
A Pawsome Ending: Atlas Reunited with Owner at Local Police Station
As with all good tales, Atlas was quickly reunited with her owner at Fairfield Police Station, just before midnight.
NSW Police captured video of the heart-warming moment and shared the footage to their social media.
In the video, an overjoyed Ms Pham can be seen patiently waiting with her partner before kneeling down to pat her fluffy white pooch as she trots across the station.
The joyful footage made its way doing the rounds across social media, with many members of the community equally elated to see the dog reunited with her owner.
“A happy ending that’s a genuinely happy ending!! So pleased for that young couple, may they have many, many years together with Atlas. Thanks to NSW Police for solving this and tracking down that disgraceful, soulless thief. Great work,” one user wrote.
“Pawsome work!” another person bantered; a sentiment that was shared as others also commended the effort of NSW Police.
One user took the moment to reflect on the crime of stealing someone’s pet.
“Such a sad age we live in that people will steal someone’s pet which is a family member in my books. But people get desperate… Just glad Atlas is home and safe,” the man wrote.
The emotion was echoed as another wrote, “Lowest of lows to steal an animal, these precious animals are attached to someone or a family”.
Meanwhile, following her beloved pet’s return, Ms Pham addressed the incident.
“Everyone is a friend to her and she’d just go to anyone,” she told 9News.
“She is a big, fat, friendly ball of fur.”
Questions? Speak with one of our criminal lawyers Sydney team today.