A stolen puppy was rescued by its owners after they spotted it for sale on Gumtree – and tricked the thief by posing as potential buyers.
Ten-year-old Zoe Picken was devastated when he new pet American Akita Rosco escaped from the garden on January 9.
Despite Zoe and her family scouring the local area near their home in West Bromwich, West Mids., there was no sign of their 11-week-old pup.
Two days later a family friend spotted a picture of Rosco on Gumtree so Zoe’s mum Katherine decided to set a trap.
She got in touch with the seller and pretended to be interested in buying the dog and arranged to meet.
But instead of Katherine turning up for the viewing, police officers arrived at the bogus seller’s home and arrested a 28-year-old man on suspicion of theft.
The pup’s microchip confirmed his identity and he was reunited with Zoe and her family.
The thief, with no previous convictions, admitted theft after finding Rosco in the street and agreed to take part in a community resolution that will see him apologise to the family.
Zoe’s mother Katherine said a friend alerted her to Rosco’s photograph on the buying and selling website.
She said: “Zoe was heartbroken, we’d only had Rosco for about four weeks but they’d already struck up a real bond. We were worried he’d been hit by a car or stolen.
“On Wednesday a friend got in touch saying they thought they’d seen his photo in a sales advert on Gumtree.
“We made out we were interested buyers and arranged to go and see the dog, but it was just to give us enough time to contact the police.
“They went over that afternoon and brought Rosco back, we’re over the moon to have him home. Zoe hasn’t stopped smiling since.”
Sergeant Stephen Knight, of West Midlands Police, used a microchip detection device to confirm that the dog being offered for sale was Rosco.
He said: “I retire this week after 30 years in policing so it’s fantastic to finish on a high.
“The look on Zoe’s face now that she’s got Rosco back was great to see and being able to help like this is exactly why I joined the force.”