An animal-lover spoke of his delight today after eight puppies which were stolen from his home were miraculously rounded up and returned safely.
Albert Romain, 55, was devastated when he returned home from a shopping trip to discover his house broken into and nine Staffordshire Bull Terrier-Collie cross puppies taken.
Police and volunteers launched a search operation and within five days eight of the five-week-old pups had been found – two of them wandering in woodland and two playing on a riverbank.
The remaining four were found in properties where they had been sold and now just one remains missing.
Albert said: “I just cried when I heard that more of them had been found. It’s been so quiet without them. Now they are back it’s lovely to hear them playing.
“I am so happy they are all coming back.”
Albert left his home in Swindon, Wilts., to go into town between 8.30am and 10.30am on Monday but returned to find he had been burgled.
Nothing was taken apart from the nine pups and it is believed they were stolen to order by thieves who planned to sell them.
“They were there when I went out but they were gone when I got back,” he said. “I was in bits. I searched all over the house for them and I was shaking.”
Incredibly just 24 hours later two of the smallest pups were found near a canal while a third was found in West Swindon on Wednesday.
On Thursday a fourth puppy was found and on Friday three more – two of which were spotted in woods by members of the public – were reunited with their mother, five-year-old Lexi.
Puppy number eight was recovered from a property last Saturday, leaving just one more to be found.
Albert still fears for the welfare of the final pup because it is not fully weaned and may die without its mother.
He said: “I know the police will find the last one. Even if they have moved outside Swindon I know they will track them down.
“The police have been very, very, very good. If it hadn’t been for them I wouldn’t have got any of them back.
“I was really worried that they may have been sold and I wouldn’t have got any of them back.”
Police are continuing to search properties in Swindon to find the remaining puppy and yesterday thanked the support of the local community in tracking the animals down.
Detective Constable Mark Harris said: “It is great news that we have recovered puppy number eight now, and we will continue working to find puppy number nine.
“I’m impressed so many have been recovered so quickly, and that’s down to the support of the public and the local media for raising awareness of the burglary.
“I would urge anyone with any information to contact us immediately to help us find the final puppy and reunite it with its owner.”
A 26-year-old man has been charged with burglary in relation to theft and another has been released on bail pending further enquiries.
It is thought that the person, or people, who stole the pups got into Albert’s home by using the spare key, which they may have stolen at an earlier time.
Albert has now had all the locks changed, and bolt locks installed on his front and his back door.
The missing pup has a mixture of black and white colourings.