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Serial dog thief on the loose in Munich

A golden retriever has been reunited with his family after being kidnapped and sold on Ebay to an unsuspecting dog lover. Unidentified livestock professionals are also stealing cows in eastern Germany.

The floppy-eared, seven-year-old Luca was returned to his grateful family six days after disappearing near Theodor-Heuss-Platz in east Munich, the local German paper "Merkur" reported on Tuesday. The dog's return marked a happy ending to one of a series of dog abductions that has plagued the region for over a year and which police attribute to a single individual who remains at large.

Six day of suspense

Luca's family notified the local police and the Munich animal shelter when Luca failed to return home hours after giving his owner the slip on Friday, February 3.

"He usually makes his own way home" if he runs off after something to eat or in pursuit of a female dog, Luca's owner Ewa R. told Merkur. "But this time we waited in vain. We were desperate."

By the time the animal shelter raised the alarm on Facebook, Luca's kidnapper had already posted an ad on Ebay calling him a "poor, abandoned stray dog."

Golden Retriever - Welpe (picture-alliance/blickwinkel/H. Schmidt-Roeger)

A thief has been kidnapping dogs in eastern Munich

The ad caught the eye of dog-lover Berkana M., some 110 kilometers away from Munich in Aitrang. She met Luca's thief at a train station and paid 200 euros ($212) for the dog. But she noticed Luca's registration chip and spoke with the dog dealer about it on the phone. The dealer first told her to rip out the chip and finally to set the dog loose, Barbara grew uneasy. She later contacted the Munich animal shelter to inquire whether anyone was missing their golden retriever. 

Luca's Ebay ad had also caught the eye of a worker at the animal shelter, who took down the dognapper's phone number and passed it on to police. Authorities continue to search for the man, who they believe is a serial dog thief responsible for a series of dog snatchings in eastern Munich. Meanwhile, the animal shelter has taken hope from Luca's return and posted on Facebook details of three other missing canines that they fear may have fallen into the dognapper's hands.

Night time livestock disappearances

Sophisticated animal thievery has also been increasing in northeastern Germany, where farmers in Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania have awoken in the early mornings to find that dozens of bulls, calves or mother cows have been abducted in the night.

Hausrind (picture alliance/blickwinkel)

Cattle thieves are expanding their radius in eastern Germany.

Up to 37 of the animals disappeared from various area farms between October 2016 and January 2017, costing the farmers tens of thousands of euros as insurance may not cover the losses, depending on the circumstances. 

Brandenburg police believe the cattle-capturing criminals are experienced animal professionals due to the difficulty of separating mother cows from their calves and the fact that the thieves leave no trace. Although the motivation remains unclear, authorities believe the criminals are transporting the livestock to farms in Eastern Europe beyond the limits of EU ear-tagging systems. The animals are then either put out to pasture or slaughtered. 

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