ALAMEDA (BCN) – A woman who had her Yorkshire terrier stolen during a purse snatch in Alameda nearly two weeks ago said today that she “is on top of the world” after police returned the dog Wednesday evening.

The 6-year-old male purebred named “Deuce” was stolen at about 2 p.m. on Oct. 30 when two men approached 80-year-old Helen Bignone as she was walking near Encinal Avenue and Fountain Street, Alameda police Lt. Sean Lynch said.

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Christopher Perkins, 19, was arrested on Nov. 4. Perkins initially said he sold the dog to someone in the Stockton area, but later changed his story, saying he released or gave away the dog in the area of Holiday Park in Stockton on the evening of Nov. 2, Lynch said.

Alameda police and authorities in Stockton worked with media to get out the word about the missing dog, and received several phone tips about canines resembling Deuce. In each case, the tips proved fruitless.

Finally, on Wednesday, another phone tip was received from a 24-year-old Stockton resident who saw a news report about Deuce. The tipster reported purchasing a dog matching Deuce’s description for $20 from a man and woman on a street in Stockton, Lynch said.

Alameda police detectives and Stockton animal control services officials scanned the dog and verified, via microchip, that the animal was Deuce.

Bignone said she had a feeling Deuce might have been recovered when investigators called her to ask for the microchip number.

“When they called me I felt very assured, and that it was just a matter of time” before the dog would be returned, she said.

Officers told Bignone that as Deuce was driven back to Alameda, he recognized the High Street Bridge near Bignone’s home and became animated, she said.

“He’s not just a cute dog, but a smart dog too,” Bignone said.

Deuce was initially purchased by Bignone’s granddaughter, whom she raised, and the dog grew up in Bignone’s home. The granddaughter eventually moved to an apartment complex that didn’t allow dogs, so Bignone inherited him.

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She said Deuce is exhausted from his ordeal.

“He slept through the night, where usually he gets up and goes outside,” she said. “He went outside this morning, then came back to bed and slept some more.”

Bignone thanked the police for finding and returning the pooch.

“They were splendid,” she said. “They worked so hard on this case, I can’t thank them enough.”

Lynch said the officers were happy with the result too.

“It was a very rewarding moment,” he said. “We’re happy to have a good solid, successful resolution to this case. That doesn’t happen with a lot of street robberies.”

Along with Perkins, police have identified a person of interest as a possible accomplice. Lynch could not provide any additional information about that suspect, except that the person was also wanted for a parole violation connected to criminal charges unrelated to the robbery.

Investigators do not believe the man and woman who sold the dog have any connection to the suspects, and may have just found it when it was released in the park in Stockton.

“If those people knew there was a reward for the dog,” in excess
of $5,000, “they wouldn’t have sold it for $20 on the street,” Lynch said.

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