Criminalize Animal Theft In New Jersey

Criminalize Animal Theft In New Jersey

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Helen Delpopolo started this petition to New Jersey State Senate and

In New Jersey, there are no laws to place criminal action against the theft of our animal family members. What laws apply are civil complaints pertaining to property. The painful part of that, is the civil complaint can only be if the animal was purchased, therefore having monetary value. If you purchased your animal ie a purebred cat or dog, you may prosecute for an indictment on someone for stealing them. If you rescued your animal, there is no monetary value, in the eyes of the law they aren’t worth anything, you have no legal standing to prosecute someone for stealing them.
 
My name is Helen Delpopolo. I had my beloved cat, Friend, of eight years, stolen by a former roommate. Someone whom lived with me for only a year, in September of 2020 she vacated our apartment and took Friend. I immediately called the police in a panic upon arriving home from work and seeing not only did my roommate skip out and leave, but cold heartedly took Friend too. The police seemed less than interested in the case, and more so worried about the confines of the law. First question was, “What was the cat worth?”. I was in shock, I stated there is not enough money in the world to place a value on my cat. The unenthused officer then replied “What did you pay for the cat?” It was at this time I realized the law was not going to pursue something they couldn’t prosecute. The theft included the common area furniture and electronics that belonged to me, so a case was open for only the items that had monetary value.
 
I was crushed and not going to give up the search to bring Friend home. Every day, for ten days, I was in touch with the police department and investigator. In the first 48 hours, nothing had been done to rescue friend, it was taken as a “stolen goods” case only because of my laptop and coffee table. I hired a private investigator and through our independent research, found a u-haul she rented. I went to the investigator with this information, who told me I was impeding on an active investigation. Clearly, I was the only one actively investigating this situation.  The private investigator located where the former roommate moved to, which was out of state. The local investigator advised us to contact the police department in PA and provide them with contact information. The police in PA told me that they could not do anything with the information given to them, as it was a civil case and not a criminal case, they could not obtain a warrant. Thankfully, I went on my own accord and rescued Friend. The former roommate called the police and with Friend in hand, I was arrested. I had documentation proving Friend was my cat, and the police released him to the care of my parents. Serious charges were pressed against me, a year and $19,000 later, all charges were dismissed from the truth coming out and Friend is home safe and sound. No charges were pressed against the person who kidnapped Friend for the theft of him, only for the laptop and table she took. This is the best of the worst situation, unfortunately, that was not the case for Diego Chaves and his beloved dog Mac.
 
Diego is living a nightmare we all can't imagine but would absolutely fear. He left Mac with a dog sitter while away, the day he was coming back and after hours of no communication, he was told Mac was missing. The dog sitter claimed he ran away letting Diego know days after it apparently happened, again without laws specifically in place there was only so much the police could do so he turned to social media for help. His post was being shared over 3 thousand times. After days of searching and pleading with the public for help, he received a call from a vet that would bring tears to any pet lovers eyes, the call was that Mac was brought in and had died. A completely healthy dog that Diego left in the care of a professional is now gone.
The police are investigating the theft and abuse of this dog, however the woman responsible for this walks free as we speak!


Civil charges only work for property, not for family members. When property is stolen like a laptop, months go by until a court hearing happens and if the thief is found guilty, restitution is made for the cost of the laptop. How can we ever put a price tag on our companions? Our pets? Our family members? We can't. This will continue to happen until there is a law put in place that if you steal someone's pet you will be criminally charged to the fullest extent.

I am calling on the Members of the New Jersey State Legislature and Governor Murphy to sponsor and pass a bill criminalizing the theft of pets. Laws needs to be put in place to prevent people from feeling there is no consequence, they need to know there will be serious repercussions and think twice before taking not just pets, but what become members of our families.
#RIPMac #JusticeforMac #JusticeforFriend #RescuesMatterToo
 
 

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