A Volusia County, Fla., preteen accused of walking off with her neighbor’s dog has been charged with grand theft, according to Orlando news station WESH. The girl, age 11, was allegedly caught on security camera stealing the pup, Reba, from the front yard of its home.
The neighbor, Danielle Kruid, told the station that she had let the dog out, as she normally would, to use the bathroom and that her front yard is protected by an invisible fence. Reba also wears a collar when she goes outside. But on this particular day, the pet vanished without a trace.
“I went outside; I hollered for her. She was nowhere to be found. The minute I realized I couldn’t see her, I knew she was taken,” Kruid said. When she checked her security cameras and realized they had captured footage of the theft, Kruid posted the video to Facebook in an attempt to catch the pint-sized culprit. But first, she made sure to report the kidnapping to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.
“That really led to other people getting involved, calling us,” Kruid continued. She noted that her neighbor, Mark Dibacco, was the one to identify the girl. Dibacco also had cameras set up on his property, and he happened to have spotted the girl earlier in the day walking around without the dog, wearing the same outfit and backpack. His cameras had also filmed her.
“About 20 minutes later, she came walking past the other way with the dog on the leash,” Dibacco told WESH. To make matters worse, he said the girl had come to his door a few weeks ago asking whether he had any stray animals or old electronics, according to the station.
Police officers quickly tracked the girl down and confirmed with her mother that she had brought the dog home. That’s when the serious charges were leveled against her.
“It was a tough call. She’s only 11. It broke my heart to do it,” Kruid said. “I think about my own children. I didn’t want her scared. But there were too many coincidences, too many people calling me with the same stories.” Dibacco said he also feels bad and thinks the child’s parents should be investigated.
Though the girl is a minor, she can still be tried for grand theft in adult court, according to Florida law. If found guilty of third-degree grand theft — a felony — she could face up to 5 years in jail and a $5,000 fine, though the court might be lenient because of her age and the fact that it’s her first offense.
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