Westminster PD’s latest quirky case: A robbery, an assault and the dognapping of a tiger-striped Chihuahua

By Jaimee Lynn Fletcher

Although a tiger can’t change its stripes, Chihuahuas apparently can.

Especially when that Chihuahua happens to be the victim of a dognapping and his stripes were the suspect’s failed attempt at a disguise.

But we’re jumping ahead. This tale begins with a robbery.

Police at about 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 12 responded to reports of a robbery near Gillespie Park at McFadden Avenue and Brookhurst Street.

A 78-year-old man was waiting to board a bus for a casino excursion when he excused himself to freshen up in the bathroom, police said.

While in the bathroom, the man was assaulted and robbed by a suspect who fled the scene on a bicycle.

Westminster Cpl. Phuong Pham responded to the scene and, based on where witnesses said they saw the suspect take off, was able to locate the man.

When the suspect saw Pham, he tried to flee. Pham got out of his patrol car, tackled the suspect and arrested him, police said.

The man was carrying a black-striped Chihuahua in his basket, so police impounded the dog while the man was being booked.

Animal Control Officer Crystal Sheldon was summoned to the impound to inspect Baby Cakes, the Chihuahua with a tiger-inspired pattern on her caramel-colored coat.

Police said the suspect used hair dye to create stripes in what they believe was the man’s futile attempt to disguise the dog.

A suspect used hair dye to create tiger striped on Baby Cakes the Chihuahua. Photo courtesy Westminster PD.

A suspect used hair dye to create tiger striped on Baby Cakes the Chihuahua. Photo courtesy Westminster PD.

The dog’s collar indicated she was from Lake Elsinore, which prompted Sheldon to call and confirm the Chihuahua’s owner.

Baby Cakes’ rightful owner was not the suspect.

Sheldon reached the dog owner and learned his pup, which he calls “Baby” for short, had been stolen on Sept. 4 outside the 99 Cent store near Westminster Boulevard and Brookhurst Street.

The owner told Sheldon he couldn’t take the dog inside so he tied Baby to a tree in front of the store. When he returned, she was gone.

Behind the Badge attempted to call the owner several times, but he could not be reached for comment before this story published.

Sheldon said because Baby was wearing an identification tag, she was able to reunite the pair.

“He was just so happy that we found her and that she had her tag with her,” Sheldon said. “You could tell by the way she was responding to him that he was her owner. She loved him.”

Baby didn’t suffer any major injuries, Sheldon added.

“She was a little tired when we picked her up, but I got her in the air conditioning and got her some water and food,” Sheldon said. “We made sure she was comfortable.”

The 78-year-old man who was robbed was not as lucky.

He was severely beaten and suffered a head injury. Police said he was taken to the hospital where doctors determined he had a brain bleed.

The man is now recovering and is expected to be OK, police said.

Quy Ngo, a 52-year-old transient, was charged with robbery, possession of stolen property and cruelty to an elder, police said.