Local News

Cumberland Dog Theft Leads Authorities To Solve Series Of Break-Ins

Posted February 25, 2004

— Investigators have made an arrest in a Cumberland County dognapping case. Police believe a man who returned the dog to his owners was involved in the dognapping.

Authorities were investigating a recent burglary at Tom and Lovia Barefoot's home, where someone stole jewelry and their 20-pound dachshund, Fritz.

"When I drove into the garage, he always barks to greet me, to let me know that he's waiting and he wants to come out, but [there was] no bark," Lovia said.

A day after the story aired on WRAL, James Bryant said he bought the dog from a couple who said they were moving out of town. He said he saw the story and wanted to help.

Bryant said the dog had been given a different name, but he responded to "Fritz." The man contacted the Barefoots, who reimbursed him after getting Fritz back.

After authorities investigated Bryant's story, they accused him and three other men -- Nicholas Thomas, Matthew Johnson, Joshua Lee -- of being involved in five break-ins in the Peters Creek area, including the Barefoots' home.

Linda Pugh said her family had a number of things taken, including a gun.

"My uncle died in [1965] and it was a police pistol from back in the fifties, and I was very close to him," she said.

"Sometimes, it can be an insignificant thing," said Maj. Sam Pennica, of the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office. "The one little piece of information that fits the puzzle correctly then allows us to find the other pieces of the puzzle and putting it all together," said Maj. Sam Pennica, of the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office.

Authorities said they found most of the stolen merchandise at local pawn shops. The four suspects face a combined total of 42 charges. They have since been released on bond.

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