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Puppy returned, woman charged in latest Naperville pet store theft

Fionan 8-week-old French bulldog was stolen Friday night from Petlstore South Route 59 Naperville. | Courtesy Petland

Fiona, an 8-week-old French bulldog, was stolen Friday night from the Petland store on South Route 59 in Naperville. | Courtesy of Petland

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Updated: December 8, 2012 6:13AM

For the sixth time in little more than four years, thieves last week targeted a pet shop on Naperville’s far west side, this time making off with a bulldog puppy.

But this story has a happy ending — for the dog at least.

Fiona the French bulldog puppy was taken Friday evening from the Petland store at 720 S. Route 59, opposite the Westfield Fox Valley shopping center in Aurora, and was returned the following day. According to pet shop co-owner Adam Stachowiak, Fiona is “great, doing fine and happy as could be” following her recent misadventure.

Which is apparently more than can be said for the young Aurora woman who allegedly tucked Fiona into her hoodie and walked out of the store Friday night. Brandie M. Walker, 21, of the 2600 block of Stonybrook Lane, faces felony theft charges in connection with the incident, police said Monday.

Investigators had a break in the case after the store posted surveillance images on its website, Naperville Police Sgt. Lou Cammiso said.

“We had a caller call our police department and they said, ‘Hey, I know this girl,’” the department spokesman said.

The caller provided Walker’s name, and police phoned her house, reaching her mother, Cammiso said.

Around 2 p.m. Saturday, the suspect “entered the store with her mom and the puppy, and handed it over to staff and then left the store and waited in her car,” said Stachowiak, who reported that Walker’s mother wanted to speak with him, “but we’re obviously pressing charges.”

“Petland called us, we took her into custody, and felony charges were approved,” Cammiso said.

Fiona, who has a microchip, is valued at $2,800.

Thieves have stolen two puppies and six exotic birds from the Petland store since March 2008. That was when two store employees and a friend took a 2-month-old Pomeranian puppy.

A Naperville man who is serving a federal prison sentence following a shootout with authorities in Indiana was charged in the Jan. 19, 2010 theft of a 7-month-old female macaw. Another man was later convicted of the May 27, 2010 theft of another macaw.

Two men and two women were implicated in the Aug. 31, 2010 theft of a rose-breasted cockatoo. They were also charged — and ultimately convicted — of stealing exotic animals from pet shops in Bolingbrook, Batavia and St. Charles.

The most recent theft occurred Dec. 2, 2010, when a man accompanied by a woman and two preschool-age children stole a yellow shoulder Amazon parrot and two white-bellied caiques. Stachowiak said the man apparently smuggled the birds out of the store one at a time inside his coat.

Most of the animals were recovered in good health and returned to their respective stores.

Mike Isaac, Stachowiak’s partner, in 2010 said it was “unfortunate we live in a world of dishonest people. I can’t fathom what people think when they make the choice to steal a live animal.”

Walker remained Tuesday in DuPage County Jail on a $50,000 bond. She is due in court Nov. 19 for a status hearing on the bond, a jail spokesman said.

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