Police return stolen bulldog that helped them find pair allegedly behind Sarasota burglary spree

Police return stolen bulldog that helped them find pair allegedly behind Sarasota burglary spree

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Police in Sarasota say they’ve arrested two people who went on a burglary spree on Lido Key, but a lot of the credit is going to a bulldog named Maggie, who helped crack the case.

Police say between October 18-20, at least eight burglaries took place on Lido Key on South Boulevard of the Presidents, Grant Drive, McKinley Drive, St. Armands Circle and Cleveland Drive. Police had descriptions of the two suspects and say when they committed burglaries, they brought a bulldog with them.

Two suspects, seen with a bulldog, breaking into a home on Lido Key.
Two suspects, seen with a bulldog, breaking into a home on Lido Key. (Source: Sarasota Police)
Two suspects, seen with a bulldog, breaking into a home on Lido Key.
Two suspects, seen with a bulldog, breaking into a home on Lido Key. (Source: Sarasota Police)

That tidbit proved to be key. A citizen spotted a person walking a bulldog on October 20 and police swarmed, finding 52-year-old Tracie Eileen Defee of Patterson, California and 48-year-old Michael Paine of Sarasota hiding in a bathroom of a home on the 200 block of Grant Drive. In a rear bedroom of the home, police say they found suitcases packed with laundry, toiletry items, paintings, multiple keys to homes and cars, a wallet, a ledger book and silver items, none of which belonged to the homeowner.

But the story doesn’t end there. Animal Services took custody of the bulldog, Maggie, and discovered she had an electronic chip showing she belonged to a man in California and that Maggie had been taken from California in October 2015.

Police return stolen bulldog that helped them find pair allegedly behind Sarasota burglary spree

For two months, Sarasota Police worked to contact the family, and secure $800 to transport Maggie back to California. Because Maggie is a bulldog, she’s unable to fly on a plane and Sergeant Eric Stafford spearheaded a fundraising effort to send Maggie back to her rightful owner and home.

After the money was raised and Maggie spent 14 days of required quarantine and treatment at West Coast Veterinary Center of Sarasota on Clark Road, Haulin’ Paws, a dog transportation service based out of Texas, picked up Maggie from Sarasota on November 13 and transported her to California.

Maggie arrived safe and sound on November 18 and was reunited with her family.

As for the people she was found with in Sarasota, Defee and Paine, they’re facing multiple counts.

Tracie Eileen Defee, 52, of Patterson, California, and Michael Paine, 48, of Sarasota
Tracie Eileen Defee, 52, of Patterson, California, and Michael Paine, 48, of Sarasota (Source: Sarasota Police)

Defee is charged with five counts of burglary, two counts of occupied burglary and one count each of trespassing, attempted burglary, dealing in stolen property, defrauding a secondhand dealer and grand theft. Paine is charged with one count each of trespassing and burglary.

Detectives are still investigating the burglary spree, working to return stolen items and recover items that were sold to pawn shops, and ask anyone with information to call 941-263-6827.

And, because we know you can’t get enough of her, enjoy these photos of Maggie:

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