Criminal probe of O.C. puppy thieves dropped after second apology
An Orange County pet store has accepted the apology and restitution paid from two suspected puppy thieves, and the store owner has asked authorities to drop criminal charges, a sheriff's spokesman said Saturday night.
The pet store got at least two communiques from the suspects -- one, received at the shop on Friday night, in a package containing $600 in cash and a note of apology; the other an apology by telephone on Saturday, followed by additional payment to cover sales tax and other fees.
Jim Amormino, spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department, said the suspected puppy thieves acted only after his agency contacted the media and television stations broadcast store security camera footage documenting the puppy heist.
"We had 50 tips … and it was just a matter of time that they would've been arrested," Amormino told The Times.
Amormino said the suspects faced serious charges of burglary and grand theft, which are felonies and carry prison time. "The only reason they turned themselves in was because they were about ready to be caught," he said.
Within two hours of the first broadcast, the store received the $600 in cash and the note of apology. The package was delivered by a passerby, who said he was approached by a woman who gave him $20 to take the envelope to the store’s counter.
Even after the $600 payment was made, Amormino on Saturday morning told City News Service that sheriff’s investigators weren’t going to back off from the investigation. After that announcement, the store received the second apology by phone and payment for the sales tax and “additional money” for restitution. Amormino said he didn’t know how the second payment was made.
Amormino said that the dog taken this week was the third stolen from the pet store and that each time, the animal has either been recovered or the suspects eventually paid for it. “They cannot escape the Orange County Sheriff’s Department,” Amormino said.
-- Rong-Gong Lin II
Photo: Authorities say this man and woman worked together to steal a chow puppy in Orange County this week. Credit: Orange County Sheriff's Department via KTLA-TV