Philadelphia teenager behind bars after string of burglaries

by Deanna Durante

A Philadelphia teenager is charged with a string of burglaries after being caught with a pilfered pooch.

Police said the suspected dognapper, accused of stealing Yorkie from an Abington home was behind several high-end burglaries.

"I turned the corner to say, 'Hi Abby. Let's go for a walk.' And no Abby, no cage and no leash," said burglary victim Joanne Harrar.

At first, Harrar thought the small dog was sick and her daughter took her to the veterinarian.

She soon found that wasn't the case.

"We knew there had been a rash of burglaries in the neighborhood, but obviously nobody took people or dogs," Harrar said.

Abington police said eight homes were broken into during daytime hours over two weeks.

In every case the band of thieves got away with some valuable items.

As for dogs, Abby was the first.

The thieves skipped past the silverware, the crystal, the china and took what the family called the most valuable thing they owned.

"Whoever could do that, they have to have no emotion or care about anyone else but themselves," said Harrar's daughter, Meridith.

Investigators said 18-year-old Jalisa Smith was the face of the scam who knocked on the doors.

If someone answered, she would make up a story and ask for directions.

If no one answered she helped herself to the goods inside the home.

Cash, jewelry and electronics were all stolen.

"When they developed a suspect, they followed her and in Philadelphia they found her actually walking the dog that had been stolen in Abington," said Montgomery County First Assistant District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman.

Investigators said they zeroed in on Smith thanks to some helpful neighbors who spotted her license plate number.

"When someone steals an animal, your pet, that's really a special kind of disgusting," Ferman said.

"People aren't talking about the missing jewelry, or the missing TV sets or iPods or money. Everybody's talking about Abby," Harrar said.

The family said they are incredibly grateful to the Abington Township Police Department, as did the family's veterinarian, who helped identify Abby.

Investigators said they found a lot of stolen property inside Smith's Mount Airy home.

She was being held Friday night at the Montgomery County prison on a $75,000 cash bond.
Investigators are searching for her accomplices.