A San Francisco man accused of stealing a golden retriever named Lily while she was tied to a pole waiting for her owner has been arrested, a crime that sparked an extensive search after pleas by the dog’s owner on social media went viral.
Le Van Loc, 53, was stopped by officers Tuesday at Sacramento and Octavia streets near Lafayette Park when they thought they recognized him as a suspect in a vandalism case, San Francisco police said.
The officers determined there wasn’t enough evidence to connect Loc to that crime, but they arrested him on an outstanding theft warrant, police said.
Lily had been stolen a week before as she waited for her owner in the 1700 block of Post Street, police said. Video footage shows a man crouching and clapping to get the dog’s attention.
The dog approaches the man, wagging her tail. The man then unties the dog and walks away with her.
Lily’s owner posted pleas for help on social media and soon the dog became the subject of a viral search.
Her owner, Jenny Seta, said on Facebook that she had received a tip that Lily was seen getting off of a MUNI bus with the man in the video July 13. Seta spent the next day searching for her dog in that neighborhood. Later, Seta said, she encountered an off-duty police officer playing with his dog and informed him about Lily.
He vowed he would find the dog, she said .
“Not only did this officer say we would find her, he said HE would find her on his shift that night. And he did!!!” Seta posted on Facebook.
At about 10:20 p.m. July 14, an officer saw a couple walking Lily near Mason and Ellis streets, police said. The couple told officers they had found Lily wearing a travel pillow around her neck the night before and had been taking care of her in hopes of reuniting her with her owner.
The woman who found Lily didn’t want to be identified, but she sent the owner a text about Lily’s bravery, according to the Facebook post.
“You have a really good girl, she’s the sweetest,” the woman said. “At one point she came over and sat in front of me and just put her paw on my leg. It was so cute. She was assuring me she’d be okay and that we’d find her family.”
Loc remains in custody and is facing a potential felony charge of grand theft of a dog. Police said that although a suspect has been arrested, they continue to investigate the case.
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FOUND - saved by Alexandra, Lilys guardian angel who found her running around in a panic around Tenderloin wearing a travel pillow around her neck. She took Lily home and posted on FB to try to find her owner, took wonderful care of her and was found tonight when they ran into a police officer that we met while he was off duty playing fetch with his dog, at the park we were searching for Lily today. Weird and beautiful coincidences.... someone is looking out for us. SHE’S HOME!!!!!!