A gang of ‘dognappers’ who stole a family pet told the terrified owner they would throw her dog off a bridge unless she pays a £400 ransom.
Stephanie Moat said a gang of three men scooped up two-year-old Pixie and drove off in a pick-up truck after the dog wandered away from her home in Conisbrough.
Two days later, the mum-of-one received a chilling phone call from the alleged dognapper who threatened to kill the Jack Russell-Chihuahua cross-breed unless she paid up hundreds of pounds and removed an online appeal for information.
The 27-year-old said: “It was terrifying. He said they had Pixie and had seen our appeal for information on Facebook and would throw her off a bridge unless we took down our posts.
“The man said his friend’s little girl was ill and had fallen in love with Pixie. He said I must pay up £400 to get her back so they could get a replacement dog or they would keep her.
“I don’t know who it is, there was no caller I.D. I was really shocked.”
Stephanie added she haggled the ransom down to £200 and arranged to meet the man at a hotel in Peterborough to make the exchange but she turned around halfway through making the journey and came home.
She added: “I got really scared. He must have got my number from what we put online. I won’t stop with the appeal though, we want her back.”
The drama unfolded while she was away on holiday and a relative was looking after the dog at her home.
She said Pixie somehow got out of the house between 5pm and 6pm on Tuesday, July 28.
A neighbour saw her out in Doncaster Road, Conisbrough, and attempted to catch her. But eyewitnesses said a group of men, some believed to be aged in their 20s, pulled up in a red and white pick-up truck, grabbed the dog and drove away. An older man in a blue Mercedes also allegedly helped the men.
Stephanie said the incident has left her son Kairan, aged nine, “shattered.”
She said: “He is really upset. Around the time Pixie was taken, a bus also went past so there must be witnesses.”
She also fears this latest alleged dognapping could be linked to other recent incidents.
In April, dog owners started to walk their pets in groups at Town Fields in Doncaster amid fears gangs were stealing animals to use in dog fights.
The same month police arrested a 32-year-old man in connection with the theft of two Pekenese dogs that were allegedly stolen from their owner’s front garden in Moorends. He was bailed pending further enquiries.
Stephanie said: “It seems strange that there has been so many of them.”
She has offered a £200 reward to anyone who can provide key information that leads to Pixie being found safe and well.
The matter has also been reported to South Yorkshire Police and she was told an investigation has been launched.
To pass on information visit www.facebook.com/pages/Help-Find-Pixie-the-Jack-x-Chi or ring Stephanie on 07487 506219. Contact police on 101.