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Break-in hurts, but loss of her dog worse

TAMPA — Deputies want your help in solving the case of the pilfered puppy.

It was bad enough when Teresa Calderon returned home from work Tuesday to find her E 122nd Avenue home ransacked. Then she spotted the kennel of her 12-week-old American pit bull terrier, its door wide open. Naila, whom she adopted just two days earlier, was gone.

One of several suspects was arrested Thursday, but what he told deputies hurt Calderon even more: The burglars realized they didn't want Naila after all and dumped her after fleeing.

"Whoever did this is awful," Calderon, 36, said Friday after the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office asked the public for help in finding Naila. "Certain things are irreplaceable. They don't realize that."

Calderon said it was hard enough for her to get over the loss of Chewie, her 12-year-old black chow mix, who was euthanized two weeks ago. She hoped Naila would fill a void in her life.

Late Thursday night, police arrested Joshua Martinez, 19, of Tampa, who admitted he was involved in the burglary, the Sheriff's Office said. The suspects gained entry by throwing a brick through a rear sliding door, deputies said, and stole several thousand dollars worth of electronics in addition to the puppy.

Martinez told deputies that after fleeing the house at 801 E 122nd Ave., he and an unnamed number of other suspects abandoned Naila behind a subdivision near Twelve Oaks Boulevard and W Waters Avenue.

The puppy has not turned up since.

"I've been so stressed and so worried," Calderon said. "We want her back more than anything right now."

The Sheriff's Office said the investigation is continuing and more arrests are possible. In the meantime, deputies are asking anyone with information on Naila's whereabouts to call the Sheriff's Office at (813) 247-8200 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-8477.

Break-in hurts, but loss of her dog worse 06/13/08 [Last modified: Monday, June 16, 2008 5:43pm]
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