When a police officer comes to your house in the middle of the night, it usually isn’t a good thing.
Luckily that wasn’t the case for Kylie Roos.
In fact, the Celina woman said she was relieved when Celina Police Lt. Shea Scott arrived at her family’s Carter Ranch home around 2:45 a.m. last Friday.
Scott was there to return Roos’ 3-year-old dog Ling Ling, a pug that had been stolen and promptly sold by an alleged thief earlier that week.
The ordeal started on March 22 when Roos said she let Ling Ling out from her house into the backyard, not realizing that high winds had blown open a gate.
That’s when the pooch made a run for it.
Ling Ling wandered only a few streets away from home, where she was found by fellow Carter Ranch resident Robert Bee on his front porch.
Bee, a retired Army veteran, said he took the dog in for the night and attempted to locate her owner the next day by posting a found-dog ad on the website Craigslist.
That’s when the real trouble started.
Within hours, Bee said he was contacted by a man named Alex Hernandez who claimed to own the dog that he called Bella. She had escaped, he said, while he had been staying with family members in Celina.
Hernandez texted photos to Bee of a pug dog, as well as copies of medical bills from a veterinary office in Richardson to help prove his ownership.
At around noon Wednesday, Bee said Hernandez arrived at his home and collected the dog.
By then, Roos and her family had already begun frantically searching for Ling Ling. They had posted her photo and information on several Celina social media sites.
“Everybody we knew was just sharing it and trying to help,” said Roos, a physical education teacher at Robinson Middle School in Plano. “They’ve all met Ling Ling and know how obsessed with her we are.”
Bee, meanwhile, determined he’d likely been conned after his daughter received a message from another concerned neighbor about Ling Ling’s disappearance and also saw the photo Roos had posted on social media.
He said he called the veterinary clinic listed on the paperwork Hernandez had provided. Staffers there confirmed it had no animals or owners matching the names in their records.
Bee said he went to the Celina police station late Wednesday afternoon and filed a report.
“It just kept running through my mind (of) what else can I do,” he said. “After I found out I was duped, I was of course angry, but I didn’t want to let it go. I wanted to make things right.”
Scott quickly went to work investigating the case and attempting to locate Ling Ling.
“All we had was a phone number” that Hernandez had used when he texted Bee, he said.
After running a records check, Scott determined the number actually belonged to a South Dallas resident named Elmer Castillo who had used the name Alex Hernandez as an alias.
Scott said he sent Castillo a text message threatening to issue an arrest warrant for him if he failed to return the dog to the Celina police station by late Thursday evening.
Castillo claimed the dog was his, Scott said, but that he had given her to a woman who was now refusing to return the dog.
Eventually, Scott said, Castillo confessed to having sold Ling Ling within hours of stealing her for $250 to a South Dallas woman who had already posted numerous photos of the dog on her Facebook profile.
Scott said he started digging to track down the woman.
He advised that because she was in possession of stolen property, she was “obligated” return the pug to Castillo – who had agreed to return her cash – or face an arrest warrant.
“It’s almost like you’re negotiating with terrorists,” Scott said.
After missing the 11:30 p.m. deadline Scott had initially imposed, Castillo finally arrived with the dog at Celina Police Department headquarters on West Pecan Street early Friday morning.
Although Castillo was not formally charged with a crime, Scott said, “I told the guy, ‘We’re going to be watching everything you post on Craigslist … and if we find out you’re buying and selling dogs, we’re gonna go after you.’”
Being able to deliver Ling Ling back to Roos in the middle of the night was “fulfilling,” Scott said, “because everybody loves their animals.”
To have an animal go missing “is one thing, but when they know that this dog was given away to somebody else and they know this person purposely stole this dog, your hopes of getting that dog back are slim to none, and I think they had probably come to terms with that,” he said.
When she was finally reunited, Roos said Ling Ling seemed happy to be home. “She was really excited. She slept the whole next day because we played all night long.”
Roos credited Scott for going “above and beyond” the call of duty on the case. “She was in three different sets of hands and somehow we got her back.”
On Monday, Roos and Ling Ling visited the police station to present Scott with gifts and express their gratitude.
Scott, however, downplays the amount of time and effort he invested in solving the caper. “In this case, we really just got lucky.”
Nevertheless, he is being hailed a hero on several local social media sites where a photo of him holding Ling Ling has been making the rounds.
“If they want to call me that, that’s OK,” he said, “but if it would have been a (stolen) Weed Eater, we would have tracked it down. We might not have delivered the Weed Eater at 3 in the morning, but we would have called them the next day and said, ‘Come get your Weed Eater.’
“But a dog is a family pet, and I think that’s where most people get the emotional connection to it.”