LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Detectives Friday were seeking the public’s help in locating three suspects wanted for stealing a companion dog that works with special needs children.

The crime was committed around 3 a.m. March 21 in the 600 block of E. Washington Boulevard in South Los Angeles, police said.

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The victim left her dog, a male Shitzu named Maximus, inside her vehicle while she entered a local restaurant.

“A few minutes later, a male Hispanic peers inside the victim’s vehicle, opens the right front passenger door and peers in and closes the door. The two other males get in a white vehicle and pull alongside and stop,” the LAPD said.

The first suspect then opened the door a second time, reached in and took the dog. The three men, all described as Hispanic, fled the scene in a newer four-door sedan, possibly a 2008 to 2012 Chevy Malibu.

The victim works one-on-one with special needs children and utilizes Maximus as a companion animal. He is able to calm and soothe the children.

“The loss of the dog is painful not only for the owner, but for the children who ask for Maximus and are especially saddened by the dog’s loss,” police said.

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The first suspect was between 5 feet 7 inches to 5 feet 9 inches tall, with a stocky build, close cropped hair with a widow’s peak and a mustache. He was last seen wearing an over-sized black shirt with script logo on the front and back, possibly the state of California, along with baggy grey Dickies pants cut below the knee, white knee high socks and white tennis shoes.

(credit: LAPD)

(credit: LAPD)

The second suspect was between 5 feet and 8 inches to 5 feet 10 inches tall, with a stocky build and shaved head. He was wearing an over-sized blue checked shirt with white stripes, baggy black pants and black tennis shoes. He also had a mustache.

The third suspect was between 5 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 10 inches tall, with a slim build, comb-over hair and close cropped sideburns. He was wearing a black or dark blue polo t-shirt, grey pants and white tennis shoes. The suspect had a neatly trimmed goatee.

Anyone with information on the suspects or the dog was asked to contact Newton Detectives at (323)846-6592. During non-business hours or on the weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7(877-527-3247). Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800)-222-8477).

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Tipsters may also contact Crime Stoppers by texting to phone number 274637(C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters”LAPD”. Tipsters may also go to http://www.LAPDOonline.org, click on “webtips” and follow the prompts.