A grief-stricken Windsor Terrace woman was reunited with her beloved Maltese pup on Wednesday — a full week after thieves broke into her apartment and stole the only valuable that mattered: her dog.
Pam Willke’s 8-year-old pooch Samantha was returned to her at the 72nd Precinct stationhouse in a tearful reunion that ended a bizarre, week-long mystery that began when thieves raided her 16th Street apartment on Jan. 23.
“It was the worst thing they could have taken,” Willke said. “I’d rather they had taken everything else and left Samantha.”
The robbers had struck sometime between 9 am and 7 pm, when Willke, an administrative assistant with the Economic Development Corporation, was at work. Cops knew that the dog had been stolen, and was not merely missing, because the thief had also taken the pup’s yellow carrier.
For two days, a panicked Willke put up flyers all over the neighborhood and contacted the local media.
At the same time, sisters Julissa and Shavonne Bermudez, 23 and 19, of Flatbush, were shopping on the Fulton Mall in Downtown Brooklyn — miles away from the crime scene — when a man offered to sell them a dog. Unaware that the canine was stolen property, they bought Samantha for $650.
But on Monday, Shavonne Bermudez saw a TV news broadcast about Samantha — whom she had already renamed Dior — about the dog’s theft.
“I turned to her and said, ‘Samantha,’ and she looked right up at me,” Bermudez said.
The next day, the sisters returned Samantha to 72nd Precinct cops. When police called Willke that afternoon, she bolted out of the office to reclaim her pooch.
“I’m a pet lover so I had no problem bringing her back,” Shavonne said. “Taking someone’s pet is like taking someone’s child.”
Now that Willke has the dog back, she is taking precautions to keep the dog safe. Vets have implanted Samantha with a microchip so she could be traced back to Willke if she is ever lost or stolen.
She also plans to install bars on her kitchen window.
On Wednesday evening, Willke met with the Bermudez sisters to thank — and reimburse — them.
“I’m hoping they can find another animal to love,” Willke said. “Just not this one.”
Cops have no leads in the mystifying crime, but said such crimes are unusual. Experts say people do steal dogs for many reasons, including breeding, resale, anger at the dog’s owner, and for use as bait in dog fighting.
Breeding was obviously out because Samantha is spayed.
“It was probably just some guy who thought he could make some money,” said one officer at the 72nd Precinct. “And he did.”
Around Windsor Terrace, Willke’s neighbors, who had helped post hundreds of flyers around the neighborhood, were overjoyed.
“I own a dog,” said Joe Coppa. “If something happened to my dog, I’d like my neighbors to help out the same way.”