Suspect in suburban Petland puppy thefts surrenders

Suspect in suburban Petland puppy thefts surrenders

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Shelly R. Hess, 50, of Chesterfield, Mo. (Photo courtesy of the Lake St. Louis, Mo. Police Department) Shelly R. Hess, 50, of Chesterfield, Mo. (Photo courtesy of the Lake St. Louis, Mo. Police Department)
Surveillance photo of woman suspected of stealing two dogs from two Petland stories Friday, November 8, 2013 (Photo from Sun-Times Media) Surveillance photo of woman suspected of stealing two dogs from two Petland stories Friday, November 8, 2013 (Photo from Sun-Times Media)
ST. CHARLES, Ill. (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

A woman implicated in the thefts last fall of puppies from Petland stores in Naperville, Bolingbrook and Missouri has surrendered, the Naperville Sun is reporting.

Shelly R. Hess appeared Thursday before a St. Charles, Mo., judge to answer a felony charge of theft/stealing, online court records showed. The judge agreed to allow Hess to post $1,000, or 10 percent of her $10,000 bond, to remain free pending trial, records indicated.

Hess, 50, of Chesterfield, Mo., is charged with the Nov. 7 theft of a female Havanese puppy, valued at $1,700, from the Petland store in Lake Saint Louis, Mo., in the St. Louis area.

She also is suspected in and could face indictment for the Nov. 8 thefts of a 2-month-old male Havanese from the Petland at 720 S. Rte. 59 on Naperville; and a 14-week-old male Maltese from the Petland at 744 E. Boughton Rd. in Bolingbrook.

She was arrested Jan. 28 by Lake Saint Louis police. She went to the police station with a lawyer, made no statement, and was photographed and processed before being released.

Naperville police Sgt. Bill Davis earlier this week said the Naperville Petland case remains under investigation, and criminal charges are expected to be filed against Hess.

Bolingbrook police Lt. Mike Rompa said his department's investigation is ongoing.

A probable cause statement from the Missouri case, obtained by The Sun, declared Hess traveled to the Naperville-Bolingbrook area and stole the dogs.

On Nov. 10, an unidentified man believed to be a relative or friend brought all three puppies in a portable kennel to the Lake Saint Louis Petland and then ran away. The dogs, all in good health, were returned to their respective stores.

On Nov. 22, Hess allegedly drove to Naperville, returned to Petland "and purchased two dogs," according to the probable cause statement. One of those puppies, Casper, was the one she had stolen earlier, the statement said.

Police said Hess later "called the manager of the Naperville Petland store several times and confessed" to the original theft. She allegedly voiced her hope that, "by purchasing these two dogs, it would make it right."

Telephone records from the Naperville Petland showed Hess made those calls using her cell phone, the statement indicated. Police also said they traced her Nov. 8 travels to the Naperville-Bolingbrook area using Illinois State Toll Highway Authority records.

Adam Stachowiak, who owns the Naperville Petland, said Tuesday via email he was "astonished by this outcome."

When Hess was allegedly making her legal purchase of Casper and the other dog, "detectives were in the store with the manager that dealt with Ms. Hess when the puppy was stolen. She changed her appearance, and fooled everyone . . ."

Hess is scheduled to appear Feb. 26 before St. Charles Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Walker Swann, according to court records.

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