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Stealing dog offences in New South Wales – Crime

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You may recall a news story we brought to you last year
involving a beloved pet dog being
stolen by a stranger from a home in southwest Sydney

In summary, “Atlas”, a Japanese Spitz and cuddly
companion renowned for being a “big, fat, friendly ball of
fur”, was pinched from her very own property in the suburb of
Fairfield, leaving her owner Elise Pham distraught for days before
the pooch was eventually found and returned to her.

Now in a twist of events, it turns out the woman behind the
crime has escaped conviction for
the five-year-old dog from the owner, but has instead
received a fine of $500 for not wearing a mask as the incident took
place during the peak of Sydney’s COVID-19 lockdown in

On Tuesday 7 June 2022, Sandi Mooshi faced court for her

She told the magistrate she was sorry for taking the dog, which
took place in August 2021.

While the 24-year-old managed to get away with not receiving a
conviction for her theft of Atlas, she did, however, end up being
slapped with a $500 fine after she was found not wearing a

At the time of her stealing offence, it was compulsory to wear a
face mask, as per the state’s COVID-19 restrictions.

Officers had reviewed CCTV from the surrounding area, which led
them to the discovery of Ms Mooshi.

In the footage, the woman could be seen crouched by her car,
following which she allegedly swiftly seized the dog, put her
inside the car, then quickly drove off.

Thanks to the commitment of local police officers, within two
Atlas was found
and reunited with her owner.


Stealing a person’s dog
isn’t just heartless act
– it’s actually against the law.

The crime attracts penalties including fines and the possibility
of jail time.

If you are in NSW, pursuant to
section 503 of the Crimes Act 1900
, it is against the law for a
person to steal any dog, and, on conviction by the Local Court, is
liable to either six months in jail, or a fine of $550, or

In NSW, it is also an offence to simply have a stolen dog in
your possession or to be in possession of its skin, where you are
aware the dog has been stolen.

If caught, you can face a fine of $550, as reflected in
section 504
of the Crimes Act 1900.

Similarly, it is against the law to steal another person’s
dog and request a profit for its return where the owner has offered
a financial reward for their pet’s return.

If caught committing this offence, you can face maximum penalty
of one year in jail.

Defences to the charge of stealing a dog include duress and
where you genuinely believed you had a legal right to the dog. This
is called the defence of a claim of right.

How You Can Prevent Your Dog from Being

Dog theft is sadly on the rise.

The increase in cases has come against the sharp rise in demand
for puppies that took place during the pandemic, and the resulting
surge in prices, leaving criminals seeing dog theft as an easy way
to make money.

Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that the thought alone of
your pet being stolen is completely heartbreaking.

While police forces and the community are doing more to protect
our beloved companions from callous thieves, as a pet owner, there
are ways to protect your dog from theft.

Here are five ways you can protect your dog from being

  1. Avoid leaving your pet unattended

  2. It is crucial that you know where your pet is at all times.
    Avoid leaving them outside unattended for long periods of time,
    especially tied up outside a store or restaurant while you go
    inside. Even if your dog is simply playing in your backyard, you
    should always have your eye on them.

  1. Secure your backyard to keep thieves out

  2. Try to only leave your pet in your garden if it is sufficiently
    secured. Make sure your fences are robust and difficult for a thief
    to climb in to or for your dog to get out, with locks placed on
    front and side gates.

  1. Mix up times and routes for your daily walks

  2. If you vary the time of day, place and route that you walk your
    pet, potential thieves loitering in the area are less likely to
    become familiar with your routine. Many dogs are targeted and
    snatched during walks – thieves tend to master an owner’s
    walking pattern and use this to plan when to strike.

  1. Never leave your pet alone in the car

  2. You might think your dog is perfectly safe locked in your car
    while you run into the grocery store or the bank. However, in that
    brief time, a determined thief, well adept in the art of stealing,
    can easily break in and snatch your companion.

  1. Make sure your dog always wears ID

  2. Your pet should always be donning his ID tag, even while on your
    property. It’s also crucial to microchip your pet. A microchip
    is a reliable form of identification given that it can’t fall
    off or fade with time. Where a theft may take place, it can also
    help you establish proof of ownership.

POPULAR ARTICLES ON: Criminal Law from Australia

Defence of Intoxication

Doogue + George Defence Lawyers

If you were intoxicated when you committed an offence, it may be relevant to your case.

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