HANLEY HILLS, Mo. – Two suspects are facing charges after stealing two French bulldogs from a north St. Louis County woman, along with her safe. It wasn’t until police recently completed a STING operation that they uncovered the two were connected with a larger criminal enterprise.
Brianna Garcia lives in Hanley Hills and operates a barbershop close to her home. On Oct. 14, she came home and noticed her two French bulldogs were missing.
“I look to my side and see my dogs are gone out the cage,” said Garcia.
Garcia says the two suspects, ages 20 and 23, were long-time clients at her barbershop. The incident has made her feel betrayed by those she trusted.
“My dogs are like my family,” said Garcia. “That’s my real deal. Family, my kids, they took that away from me.”
After that, police went undercover and set up a sting operation to recover the dogs.
“We posed as prospective buyers for the dogs,” said Major Ron Martin with the North County Police Cooperative.
The undercover officers arranged to meet the suspects. Police say the suspects became a bit panicked and ended up throwing one of the dog from a third-story apartment window. That dog, Little Tory, has spent several days recovering at an animal hospital.
“They decided to hurl Little Tory out of a third-story apartment, and he plummeted down to the ground,” said Martin, who witnessed it.
Martin says Little Tory’s paw was crooked and had blood coming out of his mouth after the fall.
“Who in their right mind would do something like that to a 4-month-old puppy?” said Garcia
After the incident, vets over at Webster Groves worked quickly to save the young Frenchie.
“There was some concern about some bruising to his lungs,” said Mary Freiberger with the Webster Groves Animal Hospital.
Not only was Little Tory saved but possibly many lives of many others. Police learned of fentanyl at the apartment complex of the accused burglars. The North county Police Cooperative says this could be part of a bigger drug ring.
“We found massive amounts of fentanyl manufacturing products, pill presses, firearms,” said Martin. “This is part of a bigger problem, not only burglarizing houses and stealing dogs, but dealing drugs and being armed.”
Martin says the suspects have been charged with three felony counts of burglary and various drug charges, though police have not yet disclosed their names.
Garcia says she’s encouraged by Little Tory’s recovery, but she is still trying to deal with the trauma and lack of trust she now feels.
“I will never forget this,” said Garcia. “I will always be traumatized by this. My dogs will always be traumatized by this.”