The Phillips family was shaken but ecstatic after their two-year-old dog that was stolen from their yard was returned to them after four stressful days. “It was an empty feeling not having him there,” Anthony Phillips said. “It was a scary experience. It was hard on my kids. It really sucked.”
The Phillips’ Dachshund, RJ, was taken from the family’s yard on July 5. A couple is accused of stealing the dog while delivering Amazon packages in the neighbourhood.
Mycah Keyona Wade, 22, of Crowley, now a former contract worker for Amazon, turned herself in July 16 and was charged with theft on July 17. Her boyfriend, Devanta Lynn Mooring, 23, has warrants out for his arrest but was not in custody at this time.
Phillips said the community, law enforcement and police helped get RJ back to his family on July 9. When the family discovered RJ had been stolen, they reached out to neighbours and the community through Facebook.
A landscaper working on a neighbour’s house said he saw a man pick up RJ, and the man asked him what house the dog belonged to. The landscaper pointed at the Phillips house, but the man and a woman drove off with the dog, Phillips said.
Another neighbour had a video of Mooring and Wade delivering packages, and the landscaper identified Mooring as the man he saw take RJ.
Phillips said the family had little hope of getting RJ back, especially after seeing a Craigslist post of someone selling RJ for US$100 (RM418). They watched as the price dropped to US$70 (RM293).
Phillips called the police, and investigator Ethan Stark took over the case. The men contacted Amazon, which identified Wade as one of their drivers two days later. From there, Stark tracked Wade down and set up a meeting with her.
She initially denied having the dog, but eventually brought RJ to a Lake Worth parking lot and gave him to Stark. Stark called Phillips and told him to open his email. “I checked my email and it was a picture of RJ in (Stark’s) arms and he was licking his face,” Phillips said.
“I can’t even describe the feelings when we got him back. It was an act of God the way everything transpired and that we were able to get him back.”
Phillips said he has lived in the town for 28 years and never thought of it as a place where someone would steal his dog. He plans on pressing charges against Wade and Mooring. Phillips said while he is not angry at Amazon, he hopes the company will be more attentive to who they hire as delivery drivers.
“They’re giving their work to untrustworthy people, and they’re coming to our houses,” he said. “We’re letting strangers onto our properties and giving them access to our homes. I really hope they will up their standards.”
However, he added Amazon was extremely helpful in finding Wade and Mooring, and the company sent RJ a gift basket when he was returned. Amazon condemned the actions of the delivery drivers in a statement to the Weatherford Democrat newspaper.
“This does not reflect the high standards we have for delivery service partners. We’re glad the customer has been reunited with their pet, and we have been in touch with them to make it right,” the statement said. “We take these matters seriously and these individuals are no longer delivering Amazon packages.”
Phillips also has a message for anyone whose dog is stolen or goes missing.
“Don’t give up on your dog. We knew our chances of getting him back were not good, but we didn’t quit – that’s the only reason we got him back. If you love your dog, and your dog is family, don’t give up on your dog,” he said. – Tribune News Service/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Kaley Johnson