GAINES TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) - Kent County residents may soon face criminal charges after investigators say they likely pilfered at least a couple of puppies from an area breeder.
Jessica Coleman told 24 Hour News 8 this all began because her family's dog Godiva went missing and they thought the people who in live a Gaines Township home stole her.
"Basically it's all due our own investigative work that we figured all this out," said Coleman, though she also later commended the efforts of the Kent County Sheriff's Department.
Coleman and her family showed up to that home -- admittedly angry -- looking for their pet.
"Regardless of what we found for our dog, maybe we've saved other people's families from missing dogs and their kids crying every night," said Coleman.
The Kent County Sheriff's Department was called to the scene, initially about a fight over the dog, Godiva. Though they didn't find Godiva on the scene, they did find at least two other probably pilfered pooches that were allegedly stolen just yesterday from a n out of county breeder.
A witness and self described reluctant accomplice Lidia Majalca said she was there when the dogs were stolen from Newaygo County.
"I told her, 'If you want to steal them, go get them yourself,'" recalled Majalca. "She told me, 'No, Lidia, I can't go to jail. I already have a record of stealing dogs."
She went on to describe the heist to 24 Hour News 8.
"[One of the suspects] grabbed both of the dogs and then when we ran," said Majalca. "He handed me the dog in the corn field, and after that we went down back into the van."
Majalca lives at the Gaines Township home, and said she was taken advantage of by the other people who lived in the home. She also described beatings she incurred for trying to blow the whistle on the alleged dog theft operation.
She told 24 Hour News 8 that the couple in the home had stolen dogs over a period of time and had even sold them over state lines. Sheriff's officials have not confirmed those allegations.
"Half the time when I come back [home] there are new dogs," said Majalca. "They say they buy them -- but obviously when I'm with them, and they do steal dogs, I think they steal them."
Majalca appeared to be working with sheriff's department at the scene.
Majalca did take Coleman and her family to a home where she heard their dog may have been stashed. 24 Hour News 8 was later told by her owners that Godiva has been returned safely to her family.
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