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Stolen dog Björn found in East Ham, London, 20 miles from Bluewater where he was taken

The owner of a dog who was stolen from Bluewater has revealed how he was found just 20 miles away after being bought by someone as a Christmas present.

Björn, a rare toy breed, went missing on Saturday, November 6, when owners Michael Fox and Johanna Kerwien visited the shopping centre in Greenhithe.

Björn was stolen from owner Michael's van at Bluewater
Björn was stolen from owner Michael's van at Bluewater

Michael's van was in the car park outside John Lewis when the window was smashed and Björn, who was brought over from Sweden, was taken from inside.

Last night, after five weeks of heartbreak over their beloved pet, the couple got the phone call they had been waiting for.

A woman in East Ham had bought the dog as a Christmas present for her daughter. But when she showed a work colleague pictures of the pooch, they recognised him as Björn.

She got in touch with Michael and Johanna and sent them some photos of the dog she had bought.

Michael said: "We could tell immediately it was him. She then offered to meet us to give him back, as she obviously didn't want to keep a stolen dog. She seemed genuine.

"She said she had bought him from someone who had bought him from someone else who was selling him because they hadn't bonded with him."

Björn with owner Johanna Kerwien
Björn with owner Johanna Kerwien

Michael and Johanna, who live in Grays, Essex, were reunited with Björn on Monday night and he admitted it has been emotional.

"Johanna has been crying tears of happiness. We are both over the moon," he said.

"When we went to collect him, he recognised the sound of our car, like he always did, and he was running out into the road.

"He was quiet at first but after five minutes in the car he was just howling and barking, he was just so happy I guess.

"When he got home, it was like he had never been away. He was running around the garden and rolling around in his bed."

Apart from being a little scruffy, Michael said Björn appeared to be in good health but they would be taking him to the vets for a check-up.

Björn is now safe at home
Björn is now safe at home

Johanna said they have had "barely any sleep and a constant knot in our chest, worrying about how our little guy is being treated and if he is eating properly."

The couple, who said Björn was like a child to them, made several video appeals for his safe return which have been shared extensively on social media and offered a 'no questions asked reward' if he was handed in to a safe place.

Michael thanked those who had helped in the search and to raise awareness.

More than 2,000 people joined a Facebook page and people have been sharing posts, printing leaflets and helping to hand them out.

After appearing on KentOnline, Björn's theft appeared in several national newspapers.

Michael said: "We couldn't have done it without the support. We are so grateful.

The couple collected the dog on Monday night to bring him home
The couple collected the dog on Monday night to bring him home

"It was down to the publicity that someone recognised him.

"Me and Johanna have always stayed hopeful that we would get Björn back but to get him back after all this time, it is a Christmas miracle."

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