Woman sentenced in Naperville 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 Missouri woman who created a stir last fall by allegedly stealing three puppies from Petland stores in Naperville, Bolingbrook and suburban St. Louis has been convicted and sentenced in the first of those cases.

Shelly R. Hess, 51, of Chesterfield, Mo., pleaded guilty in DuPage County Circuit Court in Wheaton to a felony charge of retail theft. She admitted to stealing a 2-month-old Havanese dog on Nov. 8 from the Petland shop at 720 S. Route 59, on Naperville’s far west side.

Judge Robert G. Kleeman accepted Hess’ plea, and on Tuesday placed her on two years of probation, according to court records. Kleeman also ordered Hess to undergo counseling and assessed unspecified fines and court costs, records indicated.

Hess still faces trial in Will County Circuit Court in Joliet and St. Charles, Mo., Circuit Court in two other alleged crimes. They include the Nov. 8 theft of a 14-week-old male Maltese from the Petland store at 744 E. Boughton Road in Bolingbrook, and the Nov. 7 theft of a female Havanese puppy valued at $1,700 from the Petland location in Lake Saint Louis, Mo.

Charles B. Pelkie, spokesman for Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow, confirmed Hess appeared Wednesday in court in the Bolingbrook case. Court documents showed she is to return to court July 10 in that matter.

Hess was arrested Jan. 28 by Lake Saint Louis police. A police probable cause statement indicated she stole the dog in that community and traveled the next day to do the same in Bolingbrook and Naperville.

A man believed to have been 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 ran away from the area. The dogs were all found to be in good health, and were returned to their respective stores.

Hess on Nov. 22 allegedly went back to the Naperville Petland “and purchased two dogs,” the probable cause statement read in part. One of those puppies, named Casper, was the one she had stolen earlier in the month, the statement declared.

Police said Hess later “called the manager of the Naperville Petland store several times and confessed” to her original theft. She allegedly expressed her hope that, “by purchasing these two dogs, it would make it right.”

Telephone records from the Naperville Petland showed Hess made those calls using her cell phone. The statement indicated police also traced her Nov. 8 travels to the Naperville-Bolingbrook area using Illinois State Toll Highway Authority records.

Adam Stachowiak, who owns the Naperville Petland with partner Mike Isaac, said earlier this year he was “astonished by this outcome.” As Hess was making her legal purchase of Casper and the other dog, “detectives were in the store with the manager that dealt with Ms. Hess when the puppy was stolen. She changed her appearance, and fooled everyone,” Stachowiak said.

Hess is scheduled to appear July 2 in St. Charles Circuit Court in connection with the alleged Lake Saint Louis theft.

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