A puppy which was taken by a car thief when they stole its owner’s vehicle has been reunited with its family after being spotted by children wandering in a field.
Billy, a five-month-old labrador puppy, had been missing since August 5 when its owner’s car was stolen from outside a Bay of Plenty motel.
Lawnmower Barry Riley was tidying up the lawns of Tauranga’s Academy Motor Inn on August 5 when a car thief made off with the work vehicle his puppy was sitting in.
A distraught Barry enlisted the help of police and Tauranga City Council, while his family and the motel owner, Caroline Driessens, called out to the local community to help in the search.
A woman in Matapihi contacted the family on August 6 to say her children had seen the dog, Caroline says.
“He was wandering around in Matapihi. A lady and her kids recognised him and so contacted the police saying they had him safe. He’s now been picked up by Barry’s son and they’ve taken him back to Barry, who is so happy.”
The dog was in a car that was stolen in Tauranga. The vehicle is still missing. Photo: Supplied.
The children’s mother said they found Billy in a field and brought him to their house to give him water.
”All credit to the kids, as they recognised him and were able to put him on a lead,” she said.
Barry was so relieved that Billy was found and thanked the community for their help.
“I think half of Tauranga has been looking for Billy and we are so grateful,” Riley told Stuff.
The vehicle, a light blue Hyundai Santa Fe 2006 with black wheels and black bonnet, registration BGF 836, is still missing.
The theft happened when a man unhooked Riley’s trailer and leapt into the car and drove off with Billy still inside.
A witness called the mobile number on the trailer to check if everything was all right, thinking she was speaking to Barry. However, it was the car thief who answered the phone and then hung up.
Since then the car was tracked on CCTV driving towards Greerton and turning down 21st Avenue by Tauranga Hospital. Someone else reported seeing the vehicle later that evening near Bayfair.
Anyone who sees the vehicle should contact police directly.