(Note: Updates below)
An 80-year-old woman was out for a pleasant stroll Saturday afternoon with her Yorkie, Deuce, when two men approached her asking for directions. Suddenly, they demanded her dog and her purse, saying they had a gun. She fought hard to keep Deuce from getting wrenched away, but she proved no match for the men. They ran off with Deuce and her purse.
“I couldn’t hang on,” said Helen Bignone, of Alameda, Calif.
The battle to save her Yorkie left Bignone with a large blood blister on her right hand. (You can see her hand in the video below.) She did all she could to save “her baby.”
“It’s bad enough you robbed a helpless, innocent, older, elderly woman, you take her purse have and then you have to take her dog on top of that?” granddaughter Stephanie Bignone told KGO-TV. “I mean that’s all she has, it’s like her family. That’s her baby to her.”
The elder Bignone is very concerned about Deuce’s well-being.
“I’m just really worried that whoever has him isn’t treating him good,” Bignone told SF Gate. “I’m just hurt. I just want the dog back. It isn’t fair that anybody, particularly old people, can’t just walk around without fear of being robbed.”
Bignone is a strong walker, and can outwalk Deuce. When he gets tired, she puts him in a red cart she brings with her on walks for just this occasion. There, Deuce rests like a little prince on his bed and takes in the sights and smells and sounds of this waterfront town east of San Francisco.
She is pleading for Deuce’s return.
“If they’ll just drop him off at the pound or a veterinary or anywhere, I’d just be happy if they did that,” Bignone said. Since Deuce is microchipped, he should be able to quickly be reunited with Bignone.
Friends and family have chipped in for a reward for Deuce’s return. And police are champing at the bit to catch the criminals.
“This touches a cord for anyone who has a relative that walks a dog,” Alameda Police Lt. Sean Welch told KGO. “It’s a brazen crime and we’re going to work very hard to see if we can bring these people to justice.”
The suspects — described as black men in their late teens or early 20s — left the scene in a faded blue or green 1980s Honda or Toyota sedan, which had a primer-colored left-front quarter panel, according to SF Gate. Anyone with information about the dog or the suspects should call police at (510) 337-8340.
We at Dogster have our paws and fingers crossed for a happy reunion of Bignone and her best friend, and for the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators.
Update 10:30 p.m. Nov. 2: The men have been seen on surveillance cameras from a service station (when they used Bignone’s credit cards), and further information can be found here.
Update 6 p.m. Nov. 5: Police have arrested one of the two men. The suspect, Christopher Perkins, 19, lives in Stockton, which is not exactly next door to Alameda. He is being held on $110,000 bail.
He says he sold Deuce to someone who didn’t know he was stolen. Police say they think Deuce may be in the area of Stockton, Tracy, or Sacramento. It’s large area, to be sure, but Bignone — who says she was “delighted” about the arrest — remains optimistic he will be found.
“They’re working so hard on it, I believe they’re going to get him back, I really do,” Bignone told the San Francisco Chronicle.
“They have one of them, and I think they will have the other one,” Bignone said. “I believe they will stay on it.”
Anyone wishing to contribute to the reward fund can make a check payable to “Deuce Reward” and deposit it at Bank of Alameda, 1416 Park St., Alameda, CA 94501. The account number is 02017507.
Update 11:30 p.m. Nov. 9: Perkins now says he actually dropped off the dog at a park in Stockton, and that he didn’t sell the dog to anyone. Police think someone may have found Deuce there and taken him home. You can read more about the latest developments in the Mercury News.
Update 9 a.m. Nov. 11: Deuce and Bignone have been reunited!!! She knew it would happen, and it did! We devote a separate Dogster article to this very happy news.