2 Arrested For Alleged Puppy Theft, With Toddler In Car

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — It’s a family heist, and there’s video to prove it. Two adults steal a puppy from a St. Paul pet store and take their 3-year old along for the ride.

Twenty-two-year-old Rochelle Cooke and 23-year-old Matthew Dennis Smith were booked into the Ramsey County Jail Tuesday on suspicion of gross misdemeanor theft. The crime happened at the Petland, near Interstate 94 and Ruth Street in St. Paul.

The victim is a 10-week-old Boxer, who Petland employees say was returned to the store Tuesday. St. Paul Police report they found the pup at Smith’s Oakdale residence. Employees at Petland say the Boxer was returned unscathed.

Petland store manager Fred Riehle said initially, it seemed like any other day.

“We talked for probably about 20-25 minutes about them taking home the puppy,” Riehle said.

In a split-second, things turned.

“I went to the back to the kennels to look at something, and they just ran out the door,” Riehle said.

It was another customer who alerted Riehle to the theft. The culprits’ quick attempt to flee was captured by the store’s surveillance camera.

Riehle said the two were so focused on getting the puppy outside of the store, they didn’t even realize they left their car keys behind on the bench.

“So we had their car, we had their car keys. They couldn’t have made it easier for us to catch ’em really,” Riehle said.

While employees are glad to have the pup back safe, they say it’s still troubling to think a 3-year-old was involved.

“I think it’s a little ridiculous. I mean, what else can you say to something like that? What are you teaching your child?,” Riehle said.

This isn’t the store’s first tab for stolen inventory. Riehle said a couple months ago, they had a lizard stolen. Unfortunately, they still haven’t tracked down the lizard and they don’t know who’s responsible.

The employees at Petland say Boxers are among the most popular dogs at the store. They say that 10-week-old in particular sells for right around $900. The employees also say the 10-week-old Boxer that was stolen still needs a good home.


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