HANLEY HILLS, Mo. – Two suspects are facing charges after stealing two French bulldogs and her safe from a north St. Louis County woman. It was only when police recently completed a STING operation that they discovered the two were linked to a larger criminal enterprise.
Brianna Garcia lives in Hanley Hills and runs a hair salon near her home. On October 14, she came home to find her two French bulldogs missing.
“I look at my side and see my dogs are out of the cage,” Garcia said.
Garcia said the two suspects, ages 20 and 23, were long-time customers at her hair salon. The incident left her feeling betrayed by those she trusted.
“My dogs are like my family,” Garcia said. “This is my real deal. Family, my children, they took that away from me.”
The police then went undercover and conducted an undercover investigation to recover the dogs.
“We posed as potential buyers for the dogs,” said Maj. Ron Martin of the North County Police Cooperative.
The undercover investigators arranged to meet the suspects. According to police, the suspects panicked and ended up throwing one of the dogs out the window of a third-floor apartment. This dog, Little Tory, spent several days recovering at a veterinary clinic.
“They decided to throw little Tory out of a third-floor apartment and he fell to the ground,” said Martin, who witnessed the event.
Martin says little Tory’s paw was crooked and blood was flowing from his mouth after the fall.
“Who in their right mind would do something like that to a 4-month-old puppy?” Garcia said
After the incident, veterinarians at Webster Groves worked quickly to save the young Frenchman.
“There was concern that his lungs might be bruised,” said Mary Freiberger of Webster Groves Animal Hospital.
Not only was little Tory saved, but possibly the lives of many others as well. Police learned of fentanyl in the apartment complex of the accused burglars. The North County Police Cooperative says this may be part of a larger drug ring.
“We found massive amounts of fentanyl manufacturing products, pill presses and firearms,” Martin said. “This is part of a larger problem, not just of house break-ins and dog theft, but also drug trafficking and weaponization.”
Martin says the suspects have been charged with three counts of burglary and various drug offenses, but police have not yet released their names.
Garcia says she feels encouraged by Little Tory’s recovery, but she’s still trying to deal with the trauma and lack of confidence she feels now.
“I’ll never forget that,” Garcia said. “That will always traumatize me. My dogs will always be traumatized by this.”
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