SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Two small puppies, stolen during a San Francisco home break-in over the weekend, were recovered Sunday and a burglary suspect arrested at a homeless encampment in the Mission District, authorities said.
Doug Roenicke discovered his French bulldog puppies missing when he arrived home on Saturday and found he had been robbed while he was gone.
He used Facebook and some good old detective work to track down the stolen dogs and lead police to the suspect.
Police arrested the male suspect — 39-year-old Francisco Zaragoza — at a homeless encampment near the corner of Mission and 18th Streets on Sunday. One dog was recovered near the encampment and someone turned in the second dog four blocks away.
On Sunday night, Roenicke said he will be sleeping a little easier.
“Oh my God,” said Roenicke, as he held both puppies in his arms. “They both made it home, through the miracles of people doing the right thing, getting the word out. My friends, my community are so amazing. Off to the vets to check them. But they’re here. We did it.”
Just before 6 p.m. Sunday, someone gave him back Lila, a brown French Bulldog puppy. Earlier in the afternoon, he reunited with the gray puppy, Indigo. Both French Bulldogs are 10-weeks-old. ‘
“I’m super excited, you know?,” he told KPIX 5. “You bring these animals into the world and you’re just so terrified that something’s going to happen to them. To have her back and to have her in good condition, it is an amazing feeling.”
Roenicke posted the crime on Facebook hours after Saturday’s break-in asking for help. Friends and strangers started to investigate and reach out to him with leads. Someone told him the stolen puppies were last spotted at a nearby 7-Eleven shortly after the break-in.
“The guy said ‘I want to sell the puppies. I want $500 each,'” said Jaime Alvarez, a cashier who talked to the man whom appeared to be homeless.
Roenicke said he’s an occasional dog breeder and two families already paid for $5,000 each for the dogs.
“Somebody knew they had bought a dog that was too good for the price, it was too good to be true,” Roenicke said. “And then they saw my flyer out there and made the connection…I will help them get another pup. They did the right thing.”
Police said that woman led the police to Zaragoza. He has been booked in jail on charges of receiving stolen property, providing false identification and possession of drugs.
“It’s just a crime of opportunity,” Roenicke said. “Carrying a big screen TV or a laptop that has serial numbers and those things are really difficult to steal.”
The local animal shelters told KPIX 5 they have very few dogs available for adoption. The pandemic has driven up the demand for a companion. That means prices are competitive.
Roenicke said the two dogs will soon go to their new families. One will stay in San Francisco, the other will go to Seattle.