A POLICE officer thought it was odd when she saw a known thief cycling along her road with three bulldog puppies in container bags on his bike.
And it was later realise that the pedigree pups, worth around £8,000, had been stolen from a Stratford home, a judge has heard.
Following his arrest 28 year-old James Cooper was charged with the burglary, but on the day of his trail at Warwick Crown Court he pleaded guilty to an alternative charge of handling stolen goods.
And after spending six months in custody Cooper, of Avon Road, Lighthorne Heath, was given a 12-month community order, with 12 months supervision and a Thinking Skills programme, and was ordered to do 120 hours of unpaid work.
Amy Jackson, prosecuting, said: “This concerns three young bulldog puppies, one French and two English, which were stolen from the home of Christine Wilkinson.”
She had left her home in Justins Avenue, on January 4, and when she returned the following evening her adult bulldog, the mother of two of the puppies, was there.
But the two 12-week-old English bulldog puppies and the five-month-old blue brindle French bulldog, between them worth around £8,000, were missing.
Miss Jackson said shortly after the burglary a police officer saw Cooper, who she recognised, in the street where she lives, riding a bike with container bags with three puppies in them.
Although she thought it was odd, she was not aware of the burglary at that time, and when Cooper was arrested three days later, he made no comment to questions about the burglary.
The stolen puppies have not been recovered, and 25-year-old Ms Wilkinson says her young daughter has been particularly distressed as a result.
The loss also caused her financial hardship, and she had to cancel a holiday she had planned with her daughter.
The court heard Cooper had 35 previous convictions for 89 offences on his record, including 22 for theft and two for house burglaries.
Trevor Meegan, defending, pointed out Cooper had been in custody for just over six months since his arrest, and asked the judge to follow a recommendation in a pre-sentence report.
Sentencing Cooper, Recorder Easteal told him: “If people are making themselves available to handle stolen goods that is more incentive for people to carry out the burglary, and you were in possession of these puppies only a modest time after the burglary had been committed.
“Had you not spent the time in custody you have, which is the equivalent of a 12-month sentence, you would have received a sentence of custody today.”