110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Pat Andrews
posted Jul 29, 2014 - 9:45:04am
A pit-bull puppy snatched from his 7-year-old owner as the boy walked the dog has been returned.
"It's crazy," Anthony Cavallero Sr. said July 25, of the chain of events.
Young Anthony “A.J.” Cavallero had been walking 9-month-old Red in the vicinity of West Taylor Road, on the west side of DeLand, the morning of July 20, when a silver car stopped in the middle of the road, A.J. told deputies from the Volusia County Sheriff's Office.
A.J. reported that a man got out of the car, said, "That's my dog," and then took Red off her leash and put the dog in his car.
A.J. ran home and told his father, who called the Sheriff's Office.
Witnesses who had been driving on West Taylor Road told deputies they saw a silver four-door passenger car stop in the middle of the road, causing them to have to stop their car.
According to the Sheriff’s Office report, the witnesses said "a skinny black male in his mid-20s" got out of the silver car, walked over to the boy and dog, unlatch the leash on the pit bull, and then picked up the dog and put her in his vehicle.
The man then put his vehicle in reverse, backing away at a high rate of speed, the witnesses reported, causing the witnesses to have to pull to the side of the road to avoid being hit.
Deputies visited the nearby Social Security Office, to see if surveillance video there had picked up the car going past, but had no luck.
A couple of stops at other places that might have video recordings also were dead ends, until one stop provided a break, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Deputies talked to a neighbor who told them Anthony Hill, who lives on South High Street, may have taken the dog. The witness said Hill had a dog "a while back" and lost it, the report states. The witness told deputies Hill may have recognized the dog as his and taken it.
The Cavalleros had told the Sheriff’s Office a woman named Danielle Lantz had given them Red about a month ago.
Lantz told deputies the same thing. Lantz said she had had Red for months, after she found the dog walking without a collar around South High Street. Lantz had attempted to find the dog's owner, and kept Red until Lantz had a baby. Then Lantz gave the dog to the Cavalleros, she told deputies.
Deputies were unable to locate Hill at first. Meanwhile, Red turned up at a RaceTrac gas station in DeLand, where a deputy spotted her July 23 in the vehicle of a man named Richard Valentin, the report states.
Valentin told deputies Hill had called him and told him he had stolen a dog and wanted to return it. Hill asked Valentin for help, Valentin told deputies.
Valentin met Hill at Earl Brown Park, according to the report, where Hill asked Valentin to take the dog to the Sheriff's Office. Valentin was obliging, the report states.
Deputies asked Anthony Cavallero Sr. to come to the Sheriff's Office to identify Red, who was still wearing the black harness she had been wearing when she was taken.
Cavallero Sr. said he would press charges for theft of the red-nosed pit bull, which he valued at around $300, the report states.
Meanwhile, a deputy went to the fast-food place where Hill worked, and found him there. After being read his Miranda rights, Hill said he had been driving his silver Toyota on West Taylor Road when he saw the dog being walked, and recognized her as his "Scooby," which had been stolen, according to the report.
Hill, 26, was unable to provide proof of ownership of the dog, and was arrested July 23. He was charged with grand theft. Hill posted bond and was no longer in custody July 25.
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