Dog-napper jailed after sting operation

Anna Straube was reunited with dog Roxi. Picture: Peter Jolly
Anna Straube was reunited with dog Roxi. Picture: Peter Jolly
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A DOGNAPPER was caught in a “sting” when a dog lover set a trap after contacting the stolen puppy’s rightful owner.

William Cochrane, 29, snatched a nine-week-old Staffordshire bull terrier called Roxi from the garden of a house in ­Inverness on 18 May this year.

He then foolishly advertised the pup for sale on the internet, bizarrely offering to swap her and two bikes for a car.

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Unluckily for him, dog lover Brian Tolmie, 25, saw the ad and checked the description of the pup on the website Missing Dogs Scotland. Suspecting it was stolen Roxi, he contacted the pup’s real owner, Anna Straube.

After an exchange of e-mails with Cochrane, Mr Tolmie, a ­labourer from Fort William, travelled 65 miles to Inverness with Ms Straube’s partner to confront Cochrane. Roxi immediately recognised her owner’s partner and he and Mr Tolmie made a citizen’s arrest before calling police.

Appearing from custody yesterday, Cochrane, from Culloden, near Inverness, admitted trying to sell the stolen pup and was jailed for six months at ­Inverness Sheriff Court.

Sheriff Margaret Neilson told him: “You must have caused significant upset and distress to the owner of the puppy. Only a custodial sentence is appropriate.”

Praising Mr Tolmie, Ms Straube said daughters Kayla, eight, and three-year-old Sofia were thrilled to have Roxi back.

She said: “I can’t thank Brian enough and justice was done today. I was distraught when Roxi went missing. So were my daughters.

“We were searching for the dog for two days and I thought she was gone for good. I burst into tears when I was reunited with her.

“They put a value of £300 on Roxi, but she is priceless to us.”

Mr Tolmie, the owner of a two-year-old King Charles spaniel, said: “We had a good laugh at the spelling when Cochrane sent an e-mail, and even more when we saw what he was offering for the car. Around half an hour later I was on the website, Missing Dogs Scotland, and ­noticed Roxi and thought right away that it was the same dog.

“I contacted Anna and, just to make sure, I asked her to send a more detailed picture by e-mail, and when I received that, there was no doubt that it was the same dog.

“This was on the Sunday, and by the Tuesday we had arranged to meet up with Cochrane and carry out the deal – I came straight from work at 5pm and we arrived in Inverness around 7:30pm.

“By this time we had masses of e-mails and texts, and enough evidence for the police, but we wanted to make sure 100 per cent we had the right dog. When it recognised Anna’s partner we called the police.”

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