FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --Investigators have identified a man they believe is involved in a string of burglaries, including a couple where he stole family dogs. Action News broke the story last month and our story may have helped expose the suspect.
A pair of dog bowls sit empty in a Caruthers house, expectantly waiting for a slobbery tongue to reach back into them again. Burglars took the tongue's canine owner, Ailani, while her owners were out celebrating the Fourth of July.
"When the kids found out that she was gone, they were just heartbroken in tears, crying," said Stacy Obel-Jorgensen. "It just breaks your heart."
The burglars took three TVs, a gun and some jewelry -- things insurance can help the Obel-Jorgensen family get back -- but the English bulldog who loved baths and her three human sisters is irreplaceable.
"Everything, you know -- all that stuff -- who cares about that stuff," Stacy Obel-Jorgensen said. "She's a part of our family."
Ailani was the first of two English bulldogs stolen during a burglary spree in the same general area-- hitting country homes west of Highway 99. Fresno County sheriff's detectives are looking for Daniel Fonseca Barroso in connection with the crimes.
Action News uncovered an arrest warrant detailing what led to him. After we reported on the burglary spree a month ago, someone returned the other dog, Jax, to her owners.
"It was fabulous," said Jax's owner, Sharon Perkins. "I was crying, my kids were crying."
According to the warrant, Fonseca tried to give Jax to his son, but his ex-wife and her family returned the dog to Perkins instead. And detectives also uncovered a text message exchange between Fonseca and another man discussing the Action News story. Fonseca told the other guy "the job came out on the news."
They discussed whether the $3000 reward Perkins was offering was for them or for the dog, and the other guy told Fonseca he went overboard by taking the dog. Perkins agrees.
"That's just stepping over the boundaries," she said. "I mean, I don't want to say it's fine you ripped me off, but everything else can be replaced. My animals can never be replaced."
She doesn't have to replace Jax, but while a search of Fonseca's apartment turned up some of the Obel-Jorgensen's belongings, there were no signs of Ailani.
The family is hoping Fonseca will be arrested and his arrest will lead to their dog and fill up the space that's been empty now for six weeks.