Special Report: Pet Napping
You think of your home and your yard as a safe sanctuary for your family but some robbers are walking right on to private property and stealing a valuable possession: pets.
That is what happened to the Simpson family. They treasured their new Australian Shepherd, Drexel.
"He was a little fur ball," said Simpson.
At only 11 weeks old, he was swiped in broad daylight from the family's Wakefield front yard.
"I was a nutcase, so upset."
The same thing happened to JP Cunningham's dog. Pebbles was nabbed from his Wakefield yard a few minutes after he let her out.
"The greatest dog in the world," said Cunningham, "I was worried I wouldn't see her any more."
These are two examples of the growing number of thefts involving pets. Animal are being snatched from the security of their owners and their homes.
"We keep track of the cases that come in," said Officer Christopher Charbonneau of the MSPCA Law Enforcement Department, "We are seeing a rise in them."
In Harvard, a 8-month-old puppy was snatched from a fenced-in-yard and in Lincoln someone walked into a house while construction was going on and walked out with the family's four dogs. In East Boston, someone broke through a dead bolt to steal a computer and TV and a pet pug.
Experts say this type of theft goes up as the economy goes down.
"People will either steal a dog to keep it for themselves versus purchasing or paying an adoption fee. Unfortunately criminals will steal dogs to resell them quickly on the street for a quick buck. Also they will steal dogs and wait for reward posters to come up or demand rewards," said Lisa Peterson of the American Kennel Club.
In Massachusetts, animal theft is a serious crime. Pets are considered property and anyone that steals one can face charges from a misdemeanor to a felony.
While many cases go unsolved, it's a happy ending for Simpson and Cunningham got a happy ending, when it came to Drexel and Pebbles. They were found when the thieves got scared and gave up the dogs.
Cunningham said, "I keep a closer eye on her these days."
"It was awesome to bring him home," said Simpson.
All types of dogs are at risk but the smaller breeds, like Terriers and Chihuahuas that are usually targeted because of their size.