A teenager was sentenced Wednesday to 60 days in jail -- and a tongue-lashing from a judge -- for pilfering a $1,500 Pomeranian puppy from a Naperville pet store.
Emanuel Lopez was one of three people charged with the ill-conceived caper in which they stole a 2-month-old pooch from Petland at 720 N. Route 59 on the city's west side.
Lopez, 19, of 13539 Rockefeller, Plainfield, pleaded guilty May 27 to felony retail theft. He also admitted repeatedly blowing marijuana smoke in the puppy's face while joyriding with his friends after the March 21 theft.
"People who abuse animals are on the lowest rung of humanity," DuPage Circuit Judge John Kinsella told Lopez, who had to prior arrests for theft and retail theft, "Your background is a thief. Is that how you want to be known - Mr. Lopez, the thief?"
A 45-year-old woman connected to the trio returned the dog unharmed to the store three days later after seeing media reports about the theft. The store owners later said a local couple quickly bought the playful pooch.
Two employees, Anais M. Marquez and Karlie A. Pellock, both 19 of Plainfield, were charged with misdemeanor retail theft.
Prosecutor Mary K. Cronin said they prodded Lopez to steal the dog and then sell it back to them for $60 so they could keep him. Both employees were in the store working when the puppy was taken.
Pollock pleaded guilty May 16 and was ordered to perform 50 hours of community service, pay fines and was placed on 12 months' court supervision. Marquez is due in court July 14. The teens were not charged with felonies because they, unlike Lopez, did not have prior criminal histories. Cronin said Lopez's decision to blow marijuana smoke in the puppy's face didn't help his case.
"To do that to an animal for your own amusement is aggravation," the prosecutor said.
Lopez faced up to five years in prison. He apologized for stealing the dog, which the teen said he never meant to harm. His attorney, Ricky Holman, a senior DuPage County public defender, argued Lopez is not a bad young man but one who struggles with marijuana dependency and is in need of treatment. As part of his sentence, Lopez must submit to random drug testing and get treatment and counseling. A deputy sheriff took Lopez into immediate custody. He must serve half of the 60-day jail term before being freed.
"This kid needed a wake-up call and he got one," Holman said.