Published: 00:00, 10 May 2014
| Updated: 16:29, 10 May 2014
Two Chihuahuas stolen from a garden in Smeeth were returned to their owner in exchange for £1,000 following a sinister, anonymous phone call.
Susan Brown of Hythe Road was distraught when two-year-old Simon and tiny 13-week-old pup Betty Boo were snatched from their pen just over a week ago.
Although delighted to be reunited with her beloved pets, she has mixed feelings about their return because of the way they were brought back.
It was her husband Dave who answered the phone to the mystery man on Thursday night.
Mrs Brown, who also has another Chihuahua called Matilda, said: “It was an anonymous phone call. He just said: ‘Do you want your dogs back, no questions asked?’ Then he asked for the reward money.
“I know people say you shouldn’t give them the reward money because it encourages people to steal dogs but when they’ve got your pets what are you supposed to do?
“Dave went out and met them. He didn’t tell me anything about it until he’d got them back because he didn’t want to get my hopes up in case it was a hoax.”
Mrs Brown continued: “I felt different emotions when I got them back. I was overwhelmed to have them home because I love them to death but I was angry that someone had taken them and then asked for the reward money.
“I think they were taken to be sold but after we handed out flyers, the story appeared in the Kentish Express and on KentOnline and our posts were shared more than 3,000 times on Facebook the dogs became too hot to handle.
“The response we got from members of the public was unbelievable. I had Facebook messages from people in Australia and the USA wishing me luck and saying they were praying for me.
"My daughter Natalie, 28, and I handed out flyers at a boot fair and I got a phone call from a lady I’d never even met saying she’d photocopied the flyer 1,500 times and put them up in her area.
“My son Damian, 29, rushed out to a pet shop to ask them to put a flyer in the window but forgot to take his wallet and the staff wouldn’t put it up unless he paid 50p.
"A woman in the queue put £10 on the counter and said: ‘That should cover it.’ How fantastic is that? I want to find out who she is so I can shake her hand and give her the tenner back.
“People can be so nice. I can’t thank everyone individually but I would like to say a huge collective ‘thank you’ to everyone who helped and I would advise anyone whose dogs are stolen to make them too hot to handle so they can’t be sold on.”
Mrs Brown said Simon and Betty Boo are fine after their adventure although the cream-coloured male pooch, who was a nervous dog anyway, has been more scared than usual since he arrived home.
The family has upgraded its CCTV following the theft and is getting an alarm system installed.
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