SANTA ANA (CBS) — Sacrebleu! A Duarte man is behind bars Friday after being arrested for allegedly stealing a $3,000 French bulldog.
And police say Darryl Jerome Cole, 20, is the thief who pilfered several other dogs around the Southland.
Officials say Cole allegedly answered an ad from Lorinda Tucker, who was selling the pooch in unincorporated Santa Ana on Dec. 14.
While they were talking, he shoved her and took the dog, said Jim Amormino of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.
Investigators suspect he also stole French bulldogs in Chino, Temecula and Costa Mesa, Amormino said.
“Last night, working on a tip and assisted by Anaheim police, we went to the home of Darryl Jerome Cole and recovered the French bulldog at the house,” Amormino said.
The dog taken from Tucker is named Macy.
Another French bulldog was at Cole’s home, and investigators suspect she was stolen in Chino, Amormino said.
Cole, who was already on probation for stealing dogs, was jailed on $50,000 bail, Amormino said.
The night Cole is accused of taking Macy, Cole called Tucker about 1 p.m., and then showed up unannounced about 8:20 p.m., Tucker said at a news conference at sheriff’s headquarters in Santa Ana.
Tucker was surprised to see Tucker in the entryway of her home because she didn’t give him her address and she does not know how he found her.
“At first I didn’t know he was there,” she said. “He seemed OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), straightening everything out in front of him.
He said, `Remember me? I’m Nick. I called earlier.”‘
Tucker told him Macy’s sister, Merlot, was not for sale, but Cole asked if she could get the dog out of the house anyway to see how the two get along, Tucker said.
“Then he slammed me to the ground and just took off,” Tucker said.
“The next thing I saw was skids and taillights.” Tucker said.
She figured Cole would try to sell Macy, so she started calling around to fellow dog breeders and soon realized someone of the same description was snatching up dogs all across the Southland.
“It’s very scary,” Tucker said of the dognapping, which she said is unusual in the canine breeding community.
“I’m one of the lucky ones who got my dog back,” Tucker said, noting most breeders never see their animals again.
Orange County sheriff’s investigator David Beeler said Tucker helped solve the case.
“Initially it appeared tough,” Beeler said of finding a suspect. “But Lorinda really helped because she had contacted all those breeders.”
When investigators arrested Cole, he was “very cooperative and very apologetic,” Beeler said.
“He felt some remorse,” Beeler said, adding Cole appeared to be a dog lover who was “very knowledgeable” about the various breeds.
The Costa Mesa abduction involves two English bulldogs that are still missing, Beeler said.
Cole was on probation for stealing a different breed of dog in Whittier, Beeler said.
Tucker’s fascination with French bulldogs started with a trip to Paris.
“I saw my first one in a cafe in Paris and the first one I saw brought napkins to the table,” Tucker said. “I was really impressed.”
French bulldogs are known as an even-keeled, friendly breed, Tucker said.
“They don’t chew things, they’re very sweet, very good dogs,” Tucker said. “I’ve never met anyone who didn’t fall in love with a Frenchie.”
Prices for one of the breed have gone as high as $6,000, but now usually go for half that, Tucker said.
Macy is off the market now, though, Tucker said.
“That dog is no longer for sale,” Tucker said, pointing to Macy. At the press conference, the little pooch was all decked out, ready for her close-up. She was wearing a pink sweater with glitter. “We’re keeping both sisters together now.”
(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)