A heartbroken 7-year-old girl's Christmas wish came true when New York City cops nabbed the Grinch that stole her dog and a good Samaritan helped reunite her with the missing pooch.
On Christmas Day, a beaming Mia Bendray, 7, wrapped her arms around Marley, the Cavalier King Charles spaniel, who had been brazenly unleashed and taken from outside a shop in Manhattan's Washington Heights neighborhood on Christmas Eve. The theft was caught on tape and police provided the video to news outlets.
"Thank you, the people of Washington Heights… Those great Samaritans… And now we got him on Christmas Day," Mia's mother Angie Estrada told WABC-TV.
The dog was rescued by Tina Cohen, a high school Spanish teacher, who came across a man on Monday in another section of Manhattan standing on a street corner and yelling that he had a dog for sale.
"I said that's not right. I said I'd like to buy the dog. I only have $100," Cohen said.
When the man demanded more cash, Cohen said she went to a nearby Staples and bought merchandise she then returned for cash. She bought Marley for $200 and quickly took the dog to the veterinarian that treats her own dogs.
In the meantime, other bystanders called the cops, who soon collared the alleged dognapper Brad Bacon, 29. Bacon appears to have been caught on video taking the dog on Monday.
He has not yet been arraigned. Authorities did not know if he had obtained a lawyer.
Cohen's vet was able to track down Marley's owner from a microchip implanted in the dog's skin and with help from an animal rescue group that had learned about the stolen pup.
On Tuesday when Cohen watched Marley jump into Mia's arms, she said: "You guys belong together. I'm so happy you are together."
"That was the worst thing, there was a Grinch that was live and about in New York," the girls' mom said. "The Grinch didn't win today."