Caught on camera | Puppy stolen from pet store
A pet store owner is outraged after a theft that was caught on camera.
Jim Wente, who owns Bert's Pet Center, says a family came into the store on Tuesday evening and stole a puppy.
"They caught us busy," Wente said. "They were able to hand the puppy to their daughter, made it to the back of the store. They then concealed the dog and walked out of the store with it."
Wente says they had the Chihuahua puppy in a display at the front of the store.
"We keep our puppies open to the public as much as we can to make sure they are getting plenty of attention," Wente said. "Sometimes that comes at a price."
Wente says the puppy was taken from the display to the back of the store, away from customers and employees, where a man tried to stuff the puppy underneath his jacket.
"It was blatant. You can see in the video, he doesn't get it right the first two times and then he finally stuffs it in his pocket and zips it the third time," Wente said.
Wente says the family then hopped in a van and took off with the puppy.
"A minute or two after we noticed the puppy was gone, we immediately pulled up the cameras, posted to Facebook and alerted the police," he said.
Wente says the worst part about the theft was the fact that it happened in front of small children.
"That was the sad part that these children had to watch their parents do this," Wente said. "The times we live in, we have enough bad examples than to show your children this kind of behavior. That's just only reinforcing and teaching them the wrong ways in life."
Wente says the incident took another turn Tuesday night when the puppy was returned to the store by a teenager who was with the family when the puppy was taken.
"The fact that they sent him back with the puppy, that speaks volumes," Wente said.
A woman, who identified herself as the wife of the husband in the video, tells WSAZ that the dog was returned as soon as she found it was in her car.
However, Wente says the dog was only returned after he posted surveillance video on Facebook and identified the people in the video.
"The mother was defending herself to me on Facebook, saying it was a misunderstanding and that her daughter accidentally walked out and didn't realize she had the puppy until they were halfway home," Wente said. "This was not a mistake. In no way shape or form was this a mistake. They stuffed it in their pocket like it was a toy. It was completely orchestrated. Every aspect of the video shows that this was a planned theft."
Wente says this incident has now led to changes being made at the store.
"Our smaller puppies will now be kept in the back of the store and we will have to get them out for customers now," Wente said.
Wente says the puppy appears to be fine. However, they are still taking the dog to the veterinarian to be checked out.
"The puppy came back in good shape, but I don't know what happened between that hour and a half to two hours before we got the dog back," Wente said.
The Russell Police Department says charges will be filed in the case.
At least one of the people in the video is looking at facing felony shoplifting charges.
However, police say they are looking at the possibility that other people in the video may face charges, as well.
"I do forgive them for what they did," Wente said. "But there needs to be punishment. People need to understand there are consequences when you commit a crime."