Video Shows California Man Stealing Dog Out of a Parked Car in 40 Seconds

Never leave a dog locked inside a car.

There are many reasons to never leave a dog locked inside a car—one of them being that it could get stolen. Surveillance footage shows a man stealing a small dog through the window of a parked car and taking off with the animal in tow. Earl Choi, 38, of Fullerton, California, is facing charges for an alleged dog-napping incident that happened in the parking lot of Irvine's University Town Center. Here's what the video footage showed, how the dognapper got caught, and what happened to the dog.

Crime Of Opportunity

Irvine Police Department/Facebook

A little dog by the name of "Mookie" was left locked inside a parked car at the University Town Center parking lot in Irvine, California. Surveillance footage shows exactly how the theft unfolded: Dognapper walked up to the car on the rear passenger side, interacted with the dog, and then took it out via the cracked window. The entire incident took 40 seconds. Keep reading to learn more and see the video.

Lost and Found

Irvine Police Department/Facebook

Mookie's owner posted about the incident on a pet-recovery website, in hopes someone would have seen the dog or knew what happened. Someone did respond—Choi. According to Choi, his roommate came home with a dog matching Mookie's description, and he would return the pet for a fee.



Mookie's owner agreed to meet Choi at a mutually agreed upon location, to exchange the dog and the money. What Choi didn't realize is that law enforcement was involved: When Choi arrived, officers were waiting. He was arrested and charged with grand theft, and Mookie was safely returned to his owner. 


Irvine Police Department/Facebook

Stealing a dog in California can result in serious fines or even prison time. If a dog is worth more than $950, it's considered grand theft—otherwise it's petty theft. If a dog is stolen from private property, burglary charges can be brought on the perpetrator. Grand theft can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a penalty, which can be punishable by up to 3 years in prison.

Never Leave Your Dog In a Car


Leaving your pet alone in a car could result not only in theft but possible death. "Never leave your pet unattended in a parked car for any period of time," warns the Humane Society. "On a warm day, the temperature in a car can exceed 120° in a matter of minutes—even with the windows partially open. Your pet can quickly suffer brain damage or die from heatstroke or suffocation."

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more
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