With his giant ears, tiny wiggly body and wagging tail, Chewie jumped into Ana Licea’s arms Saturday morning a day after being ripped from her stepfather’s arms during a walk.
The ordeal started late Friday morning when two women drove past Licea’s stepdad and Chewie in Rose Park, made a U-turn and stopped the car, Licea said.
The passenger got out and approached them, making the comment: “What a cute dog you have,” before pushing Licea’s 73-year-old stepdad to the ground and prying Chewie, a 3-year-old Maltese-Yorkie, from his arms and driving away, she said.
“He was devastated, he felt so bad and felt a lot of guilt,” Licea said. “… He felt so helpless in the whole situation, and he couldn’t do much about it.”
Licea, a nurse who often works long shifts, brings Chewie to her parents house while she’s at work so he’s not home alone all day. The pup is spoiled at her parents house, she said, with three walks a day and homemade chicken food.
They reported the crime to police, who went to work trying to find the dog. Licea frantically posted on social media about her dog, a post that was shared over 2,000 times.
Police were able to track down the suspects after finding homes in the area of Eighth Street and Molino Avenue with surveillance equipment that caught the incident on camera. With photo enhancing technology, they were able to get the license plate number and track the car to a home in South Gate, Detective Joe Gutierrez said.
Police got a search warrant authorized and went to the home shortly before 1 a.m. Saturday morning, finding Chewie inside the home in a box with a blanket, he said. It didn’t appear as though the dog had been mistreated, Gutierrez said.
Animal Control officers joined Long Beach police, bringing a microchip scanner. When the chip came back registered to Licea, police arrested the two women at the scene.
“To my knowledge, they never claimed it was theirs, however, when they did come home yesterday, they told the rest of the family that they purchased a new dog,” Gutierrez said.
Erika Trujillo, 24, and Patricia Juarez, 50, were arrested on suspicion of second degree robbery.
Police are still trying to determine why the women stole Chewie, and Licea said she “has no idea” why someone would go to those lengths to steal him.
As for Chewie, Licea said she plans to celebrate his homecoming today with a trip up to Rancho Palos Verdes to let him run around on the bluff and a little party with his doggie friends.