The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department has arrested a man suspected of breaking into an animal shelter in the Jurupa Valley and stealing three dogs last week.
Sheriff’s officials said Tymothy Burns-Whitney, 20, was arrested in connection with the investigation.
Detectives believe Burns-Whitney worked with an unidentified second man to break into the shelter and steal the three dogs on behalf of a woman who may have been their former owner. The flight was caught on security cameras.
“We think they cut through the outer fence and then used bolt cutters to get through some of the other areas where we have locks,” said John Welsh of Riverside County Animal Services.
At around 4am last Wednesday, two men, one of whom was wearing a red mask, burst into the back of the shelter and entered the kennel where they searched for a particular group of dogs.
Animal services officials said three dogs were removed from a homeless encampment earlier this month after a man was badly bitten by a “gray pit bull”. The victim refused to identify which dog had bitten him, leading to two dogs being impounded. A third dog was found at the camp and was malnourished and needed medical attention, Animal Services said.
“Our understanding is that these dogs do not belong to these two men,” Welsh said. “They belong to a woman they know.”
This woman may be the former owner of one or all of the dogs.
“In the world of these encampments, everyone kind of knows everyone else, so they might have done this to be of service to that particular dog owner,” Welsh said.
The dogs were being held in quarantine for the alleged attack and were due to be released only a day after being stolen.
Field Services Division Commander Josh Sisler said that while the dog bite was serious, “it wouldn’t have stopped the owner from getting her pets back.”
Animal services officials said they are always willing to work with dog owners whenever pets are confiscated and grants are available for homeless people who pay a fee for the release of their animals. .
Burns-Whitney was arrested Friday at an undisclosed location. The second suspect in this burglary remains wanted by the authorities.
This is at least the second time someone has broken into the Jurupa Valley shelter and stolen multiple dogs. Three other dogs were stolen from the shelter in April.
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