A dog owner in Texas is offering a $1,000 reward to anyone who returns his four-legged best friend safely.
Steve Liollilo, a pipeline business representative in Houston, has been searching for Bennie, his missing French bulldog, since late January, and it appears Bennie was stolen from a local gas station.
“My backyard boys accidentally let Bennie out on Wednesday, January 25,” Liollilo told Fox News Digital via Facebook. “[We] We drove around looking for it, and with no luck, we made flyers and handed them out the next day.”
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Liollilo eventually got a call from a man who found Bennie two blocks from the dog house “not even 30 minutes after he came out,” Liollio wrote to Fox News Digital.
The tipster told Liollilo that a man walked up from the Shell service station in Cavalcade on 45 North and claimed to be Bennie’s owner and took the small dog away.
Surveillance videos that Liollilo obtained from a nearby tire store and a competing Exxon gas station appear to corroborate the informant’s account of events.
“I went through [the] footage for a couple of hours and sure enough, I find the guy who got into traffic and took it away,” Liollilo said.
The man who allegedly took Bennie was wearing a white T-shirt, jeans and white sneakers and was driving a truck.
“Then it goes to the Exxon across the street and it fills up,” Liollilo continued. “[I] I still can’t make out a license plate, but now I have a lot of information and good photos of the guy.”
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Liollilo said he obtained a copy of the man’s receipt and was able to identify the suspect’s vehicle, but police in the area determined the maroon truck does not have a front license plate or registration sticker and likely has a fake paper tag on the back.
Fox News Digital has contacted the Houston Police Department for comment.
Liollilo hasn’t gotten a call back since he went public with his “$1,000 reward, no questions asked” offer, but he remains hopeful.
“Someone has to know this guy,” Liollilo wrote. “You just need to get to the right person.”
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Bennie’s abduction occurred days before the City of Houston’s Municipal Code went into effect requiring registration, microchipping and vaccination for dogs and cats at least four months of age.
The city code officially began on Wednesday, February 1.
Bennie is microchipped, but Liollilo pointed out that pet microchips don’t work like GPS trackers.
“Unfortunately, they don’t have any real tracking technology, they just contain the owner’s information, so IF they turn it over to a shelter/vet, they would get my information,” Liollilo wrote to Fox News Digital.
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Dog thefts in the US have reportedly increased nearly 40% since 2021 and French bulldogs are one of the most stolen dog breeds, according to AKC Reunite, a lost pet recovery service operated by the American Kennel Club.
Canine Journal, an online canine resource, reports that French bulldogs average between $1,500 and $3,000 in the US, with prices fluctuating based on breeder reputation and location.
In February 2021, Lady Gaga’s two French bulldogs, Koji and Gustav, were stolen from her friend Ryan Fischer, who was walking his dogs in Los Angeles.
Fischer was shot during the robbery. He survived the attack and Lady Gaga’s dogs were eventually recovered.
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Fox News Digital reported on December 5, 2022 that the man who shot Fischer was arrested and sentenced to 21 years in prison.
Fox News Digital’s Lauryn Overhultz contributed to this report.