BOONE CO, Mo. - Pet flipping is a rising crime, where a pet is stolen and then sold for money. One Mid-Missouri family with an autistic son became the latest victims of the trend. Their English bulldog was stolen Wednesday and suddenly returned Thursday evening.
National statistics show that Indianapolis, Saint Louis, and Kansas City are the top three cities for the crime. However, Mid-Missouri is becoming a target area.
For the Baker family in Boone County, their English Bulldog is more than just a dog. Buddy is a service dog to their 11-year-old son.
Matthew Baker suffers from autism, a disorder that affects the brain's normal development of social and communication skills.
Matthew has trouble speaking, but Wednesday wanted to be heard. He told ABC 17 News that he loves Buddy very much.
The two sleep together every night, because that is when Matthew has his seizures.
"So even with my baby monitor, if I'm sleeping I won't know. So Buddy comes and gets me," said Holly Baker, Matthew's mother.
This past Sunday Matthew had three seizures. All of which Buddy was by his side for. But on Wednesday, Buddy went missing from the family's back yard.
"We had discovered someone had taken him with a ladder off of our porch," said Holly Baker.
Their backyard is fenced and Buddy was only out in the yard for less than 15 minutes Holly said.
"There was no evidence that the dog had gotten out under the fence or dug out any other way. We feel pretty confident that the dog was taken from the yard," said Tom O'Sullivan, a detective with the Boone County Sheriffs Department.
There was also proof on the ledge of the porch that a ladder was placed to snatch Buddy.
This is just the latest incident in a disturbing trend. Nationally, the numbers of stolen pets have increased by nearly 600% in the past four years.
Sheriff's officials told ABC 17 News that often these cases, the criminal has cased the yard more than once.
"I doubt someone was driving by for the first time and took the dog. It was probably someone that had planned it and knew the dog was there," said O'Sullivan.
Matthew was ready to see his best friend back in that yard.
"Matthew has been looking out the window all night long and calling for him and saying Buddy come home, it's time to eat, it's cold," said Holly Baker.