A Maryland man who drove a female friend to a funeral in York County last month spotted a puppy left in a parked car at a Manchester-area shopping center and decided he'd take it home to his kids, police said.
Northeastern Regional Police said that after the funeral, Andrew Francis Haischer drove to Family Dollar in the 4300 block of North George Street to buy some items to have a cookout. That was about 8 p.m. July 7.
In the parking lot, he spotted "Mocha," an 8-week-old pit bull puppy, in a parked car with open windows, police said.
Mocha's owners had only left him alone for a few minutes, according to Detective Brian O'Melko.
"They had just gotten the dog and ran in (the store) to get dog food," he said.
Haischer snatched the dog and took off in his white flatbed truck with a woman in the passenger seat, police said.
Police released a surveillance photo of the truck and asked for help from the public in tracking down the dognapper.
Acting on a tip given to York County Crime Stoppers, O'Melko on July 18 went to a mobile home in Conewago Township.
"The door was open -- only the screen door was closed -- and the dog was just sitting there," he said.
Pup sold? Haischer apparently changed his mind about giving Mocha to his children, according to O'Melko, because the woman who lives there said she bought the puppy for $50 from a man in a white truck. The woman said she didn't know the dog had been stolen.
"The girl he sold the dog to has a young child, and the kid apparently took a liking to the dog," O'Melko said.
That woman is the niece of the woman who Haischer drove to the funeral in York County, according to the detective. Both women cooperated in the investigation, he said.
Mocha was reunited with his relieved family, police said.
Further investigation led O'Melko to identify Haischer as the dog thief, police said.
Charged: On July 31, he obtained a warrant for the man's arrest, according to court records. Officers in Manchester, Md., served the warrant, police said.
Haischer, 29, of 5620 Wallace Court in Sykesville, remains free on his own recognizance, charged with theft and receiving stolen property.
He did not return a phone message seeking comment.
A preliminary hearing is set for Sept. 26 before Senior District Judge Gerald Shoemaker, according to court records.
Haischer's defense attorney, T.L. Kearney, declined immediate comment.
-- Staff writer Liz Evans Scolforo can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.