Couple Pays $10,000 to Get Stolen Dog Back

Thieves return Lexi, a 3-lb. Yorkie-Chihuahua mix, who was snatched from a parked car

When Debby Brown and her boyfriend, Chris, left their 2-year-old pooch, Lexi, to rest in their air-conditioned Escalade, they didn’t think their dog was in any danger. But after grabbing a quick meal at a Concord, Calif., restaurant, they returned to a nightmare: The passenger side window was smashed, and their beloved Yorkie-Chihuahua mix was gone.

“Oh my God she’s not in there, tell me she’s in back,” Brown recalls saying to her boyfriend. Distraught, the couple called the police who quickly came to the scene–but couldn’t take fingerprints because of short-staffing. So, the pet owners took matters into their own hands.

Brown, 40, and her beau put out their own all points bulletin: a $10,000 reward for the return of the dog–no questions asked. “Within an hour to 45 minutes of her being gone we had over 500 fliers up and on every single car at the Elephant Bar,” Brown says. “By the next afternoon Channel 5 was good enough to come out and put the story on.”

The hefty reward–which the couple says they cobbled together with help from friends–produced dozens of bogus calls. But Monday morning, a person who they believe to be the thief called and sent a cell phone photo of the dog, dressed in a jean jacket adorned with Winnie the Pooh’s Eeyore. “I said, ‘Oh my God it’s her!’” Brown recalls. They then agreed to meet the caller at a public place that day.

Brown’s boyfriend, who has a close connection with the dog (“He doesn’t have kids and Lexi is like his child,” she says) insisted that he go alone to meet the strangers at a Petco store in Alameda, Calif., with $10,000 in hand. The exchange, Brown says, was quick and without incident: “They gave him the dog, he gave them the 10,000 and nothing was said. That was it.”

Now home, it’s clear Lexi was a little shaken up by the whole ordeal. She’s not eating her favorite treats and she won’t leave Brown’s side. For her part, Brown, who is concerned about what the thieves fed Lexi and plans to take her to the vet this week, vows that she’s never letting the 3-lb. dog out of her sight again. “She’s in my arms and she’s going to be in my arms from now on,” she says.

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