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EAST CHICAGO — A dog owner is asking for the public’s help in bringing home her bully mix puppy after it was allegedly lured with treats and stolen from her backyard.

The incident reportedly occurred about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday in the 5500 block of Reading Avenue in East Chicago.

Dog owner Garcia Heisell Trejo said her new puppy, Nova, was put outside in the fenced-in backyard to play with the family’s adult German shepherd.

Roughly 10 minutes later when a relative went to check on the dogs, Nova was missing.

“We started searching and thought she had gotten out. We couldn’t find her,” Heisell Trejo said.

A neighbor’s security camera pointed down the alley shows video of an unidentified man approaching the fence. He is seen scaring away the bigger dog and luring Nova with treats before snatching the puppy from the property.

Video then shows the suspect running away, jumping over a nearby fence.

“You could tell it was planned. He came out of a random house and started smoking and was close to the gate watching the dogs, looking around,” Heisell Trejo said.

“She is so tiny that you wouldn’t be able to see her passing by. This guy had to have walked by before and saw her.”

Heisell Trejo said she filed a police report with the East Chicago Police Department and has posted a $200 reward for information and the return of the lost dog.

Neighbor Josephine Lopez, who lives on the same block, said this is starting to become a pattern in the area, as her own dog, Zino, also was allegedly lured and stolen from her backyard in February. 

Lopez said she put her maltese dog in the fenced-in backyard to go to the bathroom around 10:30 p.m. Feb. 23. 

Zino was outside for five minutes and then he disappeared, Lopez said. The gates were still closed and locked.

"My dog is very friendly and loved by everyone here. My dog would never leave my yard, never leave at night," Lopez said. "I ran like a crazy woman, looking for him in the alley. I have been doing it for weeks, months now." 

Lopez said she also filed a report with the police department and will offer an award for her dog's return. 

“This is just so crazy. Our neighborhood is really nice and safe with everyone knowing everyone,” Heisell Trejo said. “It sucks that we can’t leave our puppy out there without it getting stolen.”

"There are some serious issues going on here and police are not moving fast enough," Lopez said. "I want my fur baby back."

The families hope for the dogs' safe return home. Anyone with information on Nova is encouraged to contact Heisell Trejo at 219-315-9514. Anyone with information on Zino can call Lopez at 219-398-2002.

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Allie covers South Lake County municipal government, development and breaking news for The Times. She comes to the Region from Lebanon, Indiana. She is a proud Ball State University graduate.