CARMEL, Ind. – Police in Carmel arrested a man accused of stealing a family’s bulldog in 2017.
Reid Albrecht, 22, faces two counts of theft in connection with the case. The investigation began in October 2017 after a family reported their 3-year-old English bulldog, Gus, was missing from their yard in the 3000 block of Hazel Foster Drive in Carmel.
"I mean the last thing we thought is that somebody would steal our bulldog from our neighborhood," Christina Kiger, Gus' owner, said.
Kiger said the three year old dog was not just a pet, but part of their family.
"Not a day goes by still that we don't talk about him and lots of tears shed, lots of sadness in our home," Kiger said.
Gus always stayed in the yard due to an invisible fence system and was never known to escape, the family said. They’d let him out at 3:38 p.m. on Oct. 4, 2017, and then checked on him around 4:30 p.m., which is when they discovered he was missing.
Over the next few days, the family and neighbors searched the area for Gus. A social media campaign was also launched to find him. The family filed a theft report on Oct. 6.
"It's not just a theft of your tv, or someone coming in and taking your jewelry, it's theft of your family member," Kiger said.
According to court documents, a neighbor later contacted police to inform them that surveillance cameras captured a maroon vehicle traveling westbound on Hazel Foster Drive near Stacy Street around 3:45 p.m. The same vehicle made a U-turn at the intersection and then headed westbound on Hazel Foster at 3:54 p.m. The vehicle appeared to be a maroon GMC Yukon or Chevrolet Tahoe. The driver couldn’t be identified from the surveillance footage.
On Nov. 20, Gus’ owners heard from a woman who said Gus died from stress; the woman could provide only secondhand information but steered police toward the source of her information.
Police later interviewed the man, who told them he and a friend had seen Reid Albrecht walking a dog in October. The friend knew Albrecht, and both noted that he was acting oddly and discussed the likelihood of Albrecht being responsible for the missing dog they’d seen on social media.
According to court documents, Albrecht told his friend that he’d adopted a bulldog from the humane society and later asked his friend to lie and tell anyone who asked about the dog that he’d adopted the bulldog. The friend said the dog appeared “older, overweight and in poor health.” He told investigators that the dog resembled a picture of Gus.
The friend said Albrecht had been allowed to borrow an acquaintance’s vehicle, specifically a maroon GMC Yukon. The friend said the vehicle looked like the same one from the surveillance video. Police also contacted the owner of the vehicle, who confirmed the Yukon was the same one from the video.
Investigators said there was no record of Albrecht adopting a dog from the humane society, either in Hamilton or Marion counties. Albrecht was being held in a separate case at the Hamilton County Jail, police said.
During a March 28, 2018, phone call from the jail, Albrecht asked his father to tell the victims that he’d taken Gus. He said he “would buy them another dog even though they have another already,” according to court documents. He said he “cannot go another day seeing the sign about the dog in [his neighbor’s] front yard.”
Albrecht is still being held in the Hamilton County Jail. It is unclear at this time what actually happened to Gus or where he is. Police said Albrecht is no longer communicating with them.
The arrest did not bring clarity, and his owners are still searching for answers.
"At the end of this is that we get him back, that we get the answers that we need to where he is and that he's safe and that we get him home," Kiger said.
She said the second best scenario would be getting justice for Gus. Once they have answers, the Kigers' plan to continue the Facebook page to help others.
Right now, though, the Kiger's keep Gus' blanket hanging in the yard, his bed on the front porch and a sign by the road as signs of hope.