Willenhall puppy theft: Teen admits stealing seven-week-old bulldogs
A 16-year-old boy has pleaded guilty to the 'devastating' theft of two seven-week-old bulldog puppies.
Wolverhampton Magistrates Court heard how the defendant and another male broke into a house on Beccles Drive, Portobello and stole the puppies, worth £2,000 each, on January 22.
CCTV cameras on a neighbouring property caught the pair breaking the rear patio lock and getting into the house. They were later spotted running away. The court heard there was not enough evidence to charge the other male with the offence.
The defendant was given a 12 month referral order, meaning the offence will not appear on his record, and was ordered to pay £50 compensation for the damage to the patio lock, £400 compensation for the dogs and a £15 victim surcharge. Costs were not applied for.
The defendant's mother, who is in receipt of income support, was told that the £465 would be deducted from her benefits.
The stolen puppies, which were advertised for sale prior to the theft, have not yet been found.
A letter from one of the dogs' owners, Peter Beighton, was read out in court. It said: "We hope and pray everyday that the puppies are well and being cared for. This has been devastating for us.
"Their mother has been quite depressed and lonely because of the loss and we miss the puppies a lot.
"The fact that someone came into our homes has caused me a great deal of anxiety. Home should be a safe place where you can relax, unwind and feel secure.
"We have been unable to relax since the burglary. I have lost sleep and have had to take further steps to make us feel safer. I have spent £200 on security in our home. It has been very upsetting for us.
"I hope that nothing like this happens again and that the person who committed this thinks about the effects of their actions."
The young defendant, who, the court heard, hopes one day to work with animals, appeared in court with relatives. His aunt told the court: "He said to me, 'I've messed up my life now haven't I?' I know he's very sorry. He's been so upset over it since it happened."
Presiding magistrate Angela Spence asked how the defendant would feel if she issued a custodial sentence. The defendant replied that he would feel 'scared'.
Miss Spence said: "Our credit to you is not sending you into custody.
"The referral order is your opportunity to step up.
"Now I would hope that you are going to be clear in your own mind and make your own decisions before you act.
"I hope I don't see you here again. Good luck."
The defendant's aunt confirmed that she had been in touch with the victim's sister to arrange for her nephew to make a face-to-face apology.
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