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Bill Schammert, Forum Communications, Published August 15 2012

VIDEO: Theft of dog from West Acres store appears to be planned operation

FARGO - It's not your typical shoplifting case, but it still has the full attention of the Fargo Police Department. Authorities are looking for help in tracking down two people they believe stole a puppy Aug. 2 from a pet store in West Acres Mall.

The theft occurred Pets R' Inn inside of West Acres. In surveillance video, a woman is seen fleeing out an entrance of West Acres before hopping into a car waiting for her and leaving the scene.

"This, clearly, you're dealing with an animal that's alive, and the welfare of that animal has to be our first thought when we're going into this," said Fargo police Lt. Joel Vettel.

Police say the dog is a Lhasa Apso valued at more than $500.

The suspected thief spent about six minutes inside the Pets R' Inn shop canvassing the area before an employee finally lets her hold the animal.

"At some point she asks for the employee to retrieve something from a backroom area," Vettel said.

Afterwards, the woman headed over to the play area, squatted down for a brief moment and left.

Seconds later the mall security camera's caught her speed walking through other mall customers before leaving out the south entrance near Sears.

A getaway driver was waiting and ready, a sign police believe showed this was a planned operation.

"Anytime you have that, it's probably not the first time these individuals did something like this," Vettel said.

The store owner wants it known that he and his wife are just concerned about the well-being and health of the animal.

The dog was just nine weeks old and sill needed more shots and further medical care. Veterinarians are encouraged to keep an eye out for any dog that might resemble this Lhasa Apso.

Police said this sheds light on the mistaken idea that shoplifting is a harmless crime.

"It's not a victimless crime and it certainly shows that people can be pretty callous and this animal, again, we want to make sure, first of all, that it's well," Vettel said.

Since the dog is valued at more than $500, this is considered a felony and both parties could be facing jail time.

Anyone with any information is encouraged to call the Fargo Police Department.