A puppy named Bailey is back home again, no thanks to a couple accused of taking in the lost dog when it wandered from their neighbor's yard and selling it on Craigslist, even as the true owner launched a frantic search for his pet.
The plot unraveled when police visited the home of Scott and Roxanne Duff in Leechburg, Pa., on Sept. 4 to question them about reports that Bailey was there. The Duffs weren't home, but their 5-year-old son was there with a babysitter. He told police that "mommy had given the dog to a woman from the Internet," according to a criminal complaint filed Sept. 11.
Later that day, after initially insisting that Bailey was not in their home, police say, Scott Duff told police that his wife, Roxanne, had admitted selling Bailey to a woman on Craigslist for $50. The pair face charges of conspiracy, theft of lost property and filing a false report.
The phone at the couple's residence in Leechburgh, outside of Pittsburgh, was disconnected and they could not be reached for comment. But local media and Shawn Lerch, who is Bailey's true owner, described the apparent puppy-pilfering case.
It began simply enough on Sept. 3 when Lerch posted a picture of a black-and-tan Rottweiler puppy with a message that read in part: "This is bailey. Shes lost in leechburg someone please find her."
Lerch posted another message the next day urging friends and neighbors to "please keep a look out for her."
Meanwhile, at the Duff residence up the street, two dogs -- a golden retriever and Bailey the Rottweiler -- had appeared on Sept. 3 after apparently wandering away from their home. Both belonged to Lerch, and the golden retriever was returned to the Lerch home. Bailey, however, remained missing, and the Duffs said he had run away before they could return him to the Lerches.
Lerch, though, was not persuaded and told police he suspected the neighbors were harboring his hound.
The police complaint, which was published by thesmokinggun.com, said Scott Duff stuck to his story about Bailey having run off even after an investigating officer pointed out that the Duffs' son had ratted out his mother. The officer "pointed out that the 5-year-old has no reason to lie to the police," the complaint said.
But later that day, Roxanne Duff apparently admitted that she had indeed kept Bailey until she had found a buyer on Craigslist, who paid $50 for the puppy.
The dog eventually was recovered. Police say the woman who purchased Bailey lives in Pittsburgh and was unaware of the plot. She was not charged with a crime.
Lerch announced Bailey's return on Facebook, and added this note on Sept. 4: "To all my neighbors : if your in need of $50 please simply ask me. I know times are tough but please dont steal ... If i have it i will give u a loan."
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