Missing puppy held for ransom, police say
HOLLY HILL, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Members of the Holly Hill Police Department's Patrol Division and Criminal Investigation Division worked closely together to resolve a stolen puppy case and reunite the owner with her dog.
Investigators said social media and good police work led to an arrest.
Zeus the puppy is back home with his family after being separated from them for five days. When he ran away Thursday, the family put out pictures and posted alerts on social media, asking for help finding him.
But this wasn't just a case of a runaway dog, according to police. Detectives said a neighbor, Thomas Flemming, had Zeus in his possession and only agreed to return the dog to its owners for a ransom fee of $150.
"I wanted my baby back! I was like, just give me my baby back!" said owner Victoria Sochan.
That's when police got involved. They arranged for a parking lot meet up, where Flemming brought the puppy to who he thought was an owner waiting with money to buy back the puppy. Instead, it was police, ready to pounce.
"Instead of just doing the right thing and returning the dog, he was trying to profit from that trying to sell it back to them," explained Holly Hill Police Chief Steven Aldrich.
During a tearful appearance before a judge on Tuesday, Flemming said this was a misunderstanding and that he was innocent.
The judge said he could leave jail, without having to pay a bond. His fiancée told the judge she was the one who bought the dog from a woman who originally found Zeus. But Zeus' family is not buying it.
The family is now urging everyone to get your pets chipped.