Here’s a question: What breed of dog is so expensive that thieves are literally breaking into pet stores to steal them?
Apparently, some Tempe men did the math and thought stealing five prized French bulldog puppies, each worth $6,300, would add up to a pretty remarkable payday.
ABC15 first reported the theft at Arizona Mills, a large indoor shopping mall in Tempe.
According to Tempe Police, around 10 p.m. on Wednesday, two suspects entered through the back door of the Animal Kingdom pet store. They put the puppies in a large gray plastic trash can. Both men wore black clothing and left the building in a gray car.
Marketing director Linda Nofer, who works for Companion Pets, the company that owns the Tempe pet store, explained that based on some grainy surveillance-camera footage, they have a few clues about how it happened.
"Shortly after 10 p.m., the guys were seen in the back corridor, which leads to the back door of our store," she said. "And they apparently jimmied their way in the back door."
After foiling the back door in less than 10 seconds, thieves made a beeline for the cute French bulldog puppies, known as "Frenchies," which are an extremely expensive breed.
"They clearly knew what they were going for, because they were only in the store for a minute and four seconds, and they stole five French bulldogs worth $6,300 apiece," Nofer said. "And gone they were."
“There’s only two things they’re going to do," Nofer added. "They’re either going to sell them, or they’re going to breed them."
According to Nofer, the five puppies are between 11 and 16 weeks old. And unfortunately, two of the dogs are on medication for respiratory infections; they have to remain on that medication, making their medical future unclear while they're in the hands of the dog-nappers.
To make matters worse, several families had already bought three of the dogs before they were stolen on Wednesday night.
"You’ve got three heartbroken families," Nofer said. "They had already purchased the puppies, they were just waiting to come pick them up."
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All five puppies have microchips, so it's possible that if someone ends up with one of the stolen bulldogs, they could plug the microchip code into the American Kennel Club's website and find out if it was an Animal Kingdom dog. Or it's possible that a veterinarian might do the same when the dogs are brought in for a check-up.
So if your neighbor comes home tonight with five French bulldogs, take note, Nofer said.
"No one goes and buys $31,000 worth of dogs," she said.
The company also has pet stores in Tucson, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, San Tan Valley, and Glendale. They're offering a $1,000 reward for the safe return of the dogs. "We just want these puppies back safely," Nofer said.