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Arrest warrant issued in Petland puppy theft

Shelly R. Hess, 50, of Chesterfield, Mo. | Courtesy of the Lake St. Louis, Mo. Police Department
Shelly R. Hess, 50, of Chesterfield, Mo. | Courtesy of the Lake St. Louis, Mo. Police Department

A woman from Missouri who is already facing trial for stealing a puppy from a Petland store in that state has new legal trouble in Will County.

Bolingbrook police Lt. Mike Rompa confirmed a warrant was obtained Tuesday for the arrest of the woman, Shelly R. Hess, in connection with last fall’s theft of a puppy from the Petland shop at 744 E. Boughton Road.

She is also a suspect in the theft of a dog from a Petland store in Naperville.

“The Bolingbrook Police Investigations Division has obtained a warrant in regards to this case,” Rompa wrote Wednesday in an email to The Sun. Hess, 50, of Chesterfield, Mo., now faces trial in Will County Circuit Court in Joliet on a Class 3 felony charge of retail theft in the Bolingbrook matter.

Hess allegedly entered the Bolingbrook Petland the morning of Nov. 8 and spent time acquainting herself with a white-colored, male Maltese puppy named Hercules. The dog, valued at $1,900, had an identifying microchip implanted under its skin.

Rompa said his department’s preliminary investigation indicated Hess initially approached a store employee and inquired about a rabbit cage. She then allegedly asked about Hercules, went into “a petter area to pet and view the dog, and then asked the employee if (the worker) could take a picture of (Hess) and the dog,” Rompa said.

Hess allegedly told the employee she had left her camera phone outside in her car, Rompa said. She then left the shop, returned with a purse and reentered the petting area, he said.

“The employee took the (requested) picture and left the immediate area,” Rompa said. Hess then allegedly “placed the puppy into the purse and exited the store” without paying for it, he said.

Authorities believe Hess a short time later pulled a similar ruse at the Petland shop at 720 S. Route 59 on Naperville’s far west side, opposite the Westfield Fox Valley Mall in Aurora. She allegedly made off with a 2-month-old male Havanese named Casper in that case.

Naperville police Sgt. Bill Davis last week said the Naperville Petland case remains under investigation, and that he expected criminal charges to be filed against Hess soon.

Hess on Feb. 13 was formally charged with the Nov. 7 theft of a female Havanese puppy valued at $1,700 from the Petland store in Lake Saint Louis, Mo., just outside St. Louis.

A man believed to be a relative or friend of Hess’ on Nov. 10 brought all three puppies in a portable kennel to the Lake Saint Louis Petland and then drove away from the area. The dogs, all in good health, were returned to their respective stores.

Hess is free on bond and scheduled to appear Wednesday in court to answer charges in the Lake Saint Louis theft.

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