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Thursday, Jan 17, 2019
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Neighbor finds French bulldog stolen in Town 'N Country

TAMPA - A weekend of emotional trauma ended Monday afternoon when a man's French bulldog stolen in an armed robbery was found, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. Derek McComber had taken his French bulldog, Bueller, for a walk late Friday on Country Square Court toward Pinehurst Drive, when an armed man took the dog, deputies said. Gregory Sakas actually found the dog hours later - about 9:30 a.m. Saturday - in his front yard at 7704 Brettonwood Drive in Tampa, according to the sheriff's office. That's less than a mile from where McComber said Bueller was taken. Sakas was making flyers to advertise that he had found the dog when he learned from media coverage that he had found Bueller. He notified the sheriff's office Monday, and Bueller and McComber were reunited, the sheriff's office said.
Before that, news of the theft spread quickly through Twitter and a Facebook page titled "Help Find Bueller," which by Monday morning was filled with comments from people offering help and ideas to find the dog. The report of Bueller's recovery was posted there, too. No suspects in the theft have been identified by investigators. Deputies said the dog was taken just after midnight Saturday, as McComber and Bueller strolled down Country Square Court.  A gray, mid-1990s Honda Civic pulled up, according to authorities. A male wearing a hoodie got out of the passenger side and asked, "What kind of dog is that?" McComber, 27, told him it was a French bulldog. Then he saw the man was holding a gun. McComber was carrying his wallet and cellphone, but all he took was Bueller, McComber said. "It's like taking a kid from somebody," McComber said. Because the thief was armed, McComber did not attempt to defend the dog, deputies said. The thief scooped up Bueller and returned to the Honda, deputies said, and the car fled at a high rate of speed. "I can't believe they took my dog," he said. McComber said he tried to follow the Honda in his Jeep, then called authorities – about four minutes later. French bulldogs are expensive, some priced up to $3,000, according to All About Puppies, which sells dogs in the Tampa Bay area. French bulldogs are costly to breed and often targeted by thieves. McComber said Bueller was purchased as a puppy two years ago for $1,000 from an Ocala breeder. He said he thought the dog was microchipped was being neutered but learned Saturday while reporting the theft that wasn't the case.

News Channel 8 photographer Paul Lamison contributed to this report.

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