Police investigating after $1500 Shih Tzu puppy stolen from Lake Wales pet store

Police are investigating after someone was caught on camera stealing a Shih Tzu puppy from a Lake Wales pet store.

Security camera footage from the store inside Eagle Ridge Mall, called Furbabies Pet Store and Rescue, showed a man entering the shop around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

As a worker was cleaning cages in the back of the store, the man could be seen in the video looking at the puppies and glancing behind him several times.

He then leaned down to grab the 11-week-old black-and-white Shih Tzu puppy, then stuck the small dog in a shopping bag and walked out.

John Phillips owns the store and says the purebred dog, which is microchipped, is worth $1,500.

“If somebody can't afford to purchase a dog, I’m worried about if they can even care for the dog also. So what happens to the dog after he takes it is very important to us," Phillips said.

He is more concerned about the puppy's health, since small breed puppies like Shih Tzus can be vulnerable to hypoglycemia. Without the proper food, the condition can be fatal.

“We also give a free vet visit to the puppy going home so we know it gets vet care and gets established with a veterinarian after it leaves our care," Phillips said. "This puppy leaving without all of that being controlled, we don’t know what the fate of the puppy is on getting vetting."

Authorities are investigating the theft. Anyone who knows the identity of the suspect or the whereabouts of the puppy is asked to contact Detective Ben Metz at 863-678-4223, extension 265, or call Heartland Crime Stoppers at 800-226-8477.