Family dog stolen from home, thief tries to sell online

Sep 10, 2022, 11:04 PM

SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake City family is holding onto their pets tightly after their dog, Norma, was stolen right out of their house.

The nearly one-year-old pug was taken from Margarette Wheelwright’s townhouse Thursday morning.

“She was upstairs working on some stuff, and she heard Norma down here eating breakfast, so she didn’t think anything of it,” Wheelwright’s daughter, Natassja Lindsay, said.

A maintenance man on the property saw the family’s door was wide open. Wheelwright said it usually automatically locks, and their ring doorbell didn’t alert them it had opened. They couldn’t find Norma anywhere inside.

“We didn’t know she had been taken. We just thought she ran away,” Lindsay said.

The family called animal shelters, vets and posted signs. Then they checked their ring doorbell footage.

Missing poster for Norma (Courtesy: Eleanor Wheelwright)

“You can see at 8:58 a.m., the front door swings open, you can see a shadow behind it, then you see the man scoop her up and just going, ” Wheelright explained the security footage.

The shadowy figure was a man she recognized from a conversation she had with him earlier in the week.

“Two days before she disappeared, there was a strange man who had come up to me,” Wheelwright said. “He’s like, ‘Oh, I’m looking for something. Can you help me?” He’s like, ‘You have a dog? What kind of dog?’ and I’m being friendly. I’m from the South.”

The family went online to search for dogs and came across a listing that made their hearts sink: a picture of Norma for sale.

“She was listed as ‘A Pretty Lady, a year old. $350.50.'”

They thought they’d never see their precious pet again and called the Unified Police Department.

“[Police] told me, ‘Call KSL, have them take it down,'” Wheelwright said.

Hours of silence followed until a Facebook post featuring a familiar face was spotted.

The KSL Classifieds page for the stolen pug, Norma. (Courtesy: Eleanor Wheelwright)

A couple the Wheelwrights didn’t know posted a picture of Norma, who they had named Eve, and their dog playing together.

“Somebody recognized Norma and said, ‘That’s Norma from Facebook, ‘ and they said, ‘What are you talking about?’ so they sent them the flyer we had all made,” Lindsay said.

The couple who had taken Norma in said they thought they were doing their friend a favor.

“The lady, her husband’s friends with the gentleman that stole her, and he apparently wanted to keep the dog in the car,” Wheelwright said. “They’re like, ‘No, we’ll babysit.'”

The couple told Wheelwright, their friend, who has the same first name as the man who posted the dog on KSL Classifieds, tried to sell Norma, but they found his story suspicious.

“She’s like, ‘This dog is healthy, she’s fat, she’s got short toenails, well-groomed, she’s potty trained, she’s not aggressive, she’s someone’s pet,'” Wheelwright said.

Through the quick connections made on social media, the couple called the number on the missing dog poster. Wheelwright’s husband answered, and the couple immediately headed to the strangers’ home, just five minutes away.

“She opened the door, and Norma literally ran out and jumped into my arms, and I was able to see her and touch her and smell her,” Wheelwright said.

Wheelwright said her family called police and let them know Norma was home. They said they have plans to sit down with a detective to talk through the story and file charges against the person who stole their dog and tried to sell her.

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Family dog stolen from home, thief tries to sell online