Thieves stole a woman’s 15-year-old chihuahua mix from Prospect Park on Saturday — only for the owner and her friend to recapture the pilfered pup the following day!
Owner Jess Gray’s beloved tail wagger, Fidel, was roaming free during off-leash hours in the Long Meadow section of Brooklyn’s Backyard at 8 a.m., when a fiendish pooch pirate snatched the furry comrade while Gray’s back was turned, according to a friend, who helped lead the ad-hoc search-and-rescue operation for the dog.
“There were a lot of people around. Everyone had their dogs off the leash,” said Danielle Marveal. “Jess heard him yelp, and then he disappeared.”
A jogger informed the worried dog-owner that he had witnessed a slim, six-foot-tall man with curly blonde hair running with the canine toward the park’s exit at Grand Army Plaza.
After filing a police report, Marveal and Gray took matters into their own hands and scoured the Slope in a two-day search for the stolen canine.
“We spent hours looking around there, and we were about to give up for the night when [Jess] spotted him out of the corner of her eye,” said Marveal.
The dognapped chihuahua was walking with two strangers on Sunday evening near Fifth Avenue and Douglass Street, according to Marveal, who snapped into action at the sight of the missing canine.
“A young woman was walking him on a leash. I jumped out of the car, crept up behind her, and grabbed the leash out of her hand,” she said. “I asked her where she got the dog, and she said she’d found him. She looked like she was in shock, but they were being very confrontational.”
After a brief skirmish, the rescuers scooped their four-legged pet and hopped back in their car, but the second captor — who did not match the original thief’s description — followed in pursuit, said Marveal.
“A man started chasing us, and he tried to bash our window with his skateboard, and he tried to get inside the car,” she said.
Marveal and Gray managed a successful getaway, leaving Fidel’s captor’s in the dust as they booked it straight for the 78th Precinct’s Sixth Avenue station house.
The pooch’s liberators suspect his theft was part of an elaborate shake-down scheme, according to Marveal.
“We had a lawyer reach out to us, and they said it might be part of a kidnaping ring — where one person steals the dog, and another person returns it for the reward,” she said. “We think they might have been holding out for a higher reward.”
Nevertheless, the pup is now safe in his Crown Heights home, where Marveal and Gray will be taking extra precautions in the future.
“He’s never going to be let off the leash again,” said Marveal.