Scams conducted by dogs are growing increasingly popular across California, especially in Los Angeles. With over twenty reported cases already in 2017 alone according to LAPD, residents need to be aware of the many different ways dogs have been scamming people of their money.
One of the most common ways for dogs to scam innocent passerbys has been to simply steal from them. Many dogs have chosen to approach strangers while they aren't looking and use slight of hand to take wallets, phones, and even car keys directly from pockets.
Such was the case in an incident in Echo Park, Los Angeles on January 12, 2017 in broad daylight. An unidentified golden retriever, captured on security footage, managed to take a man's wallet without being noticed.
The victim later claimed to have no recollection of a dog ever being in the general vicinity.
Security camera footage of the golden retriever approaching the victim (Police handout of footage).
Taking victims to trap locations
Using their obvious natural charm, many dogs have approached strangers and then managed to win enough trust over in order to lead the person to follow them.
Little do victims know that this is an extremely common tactic that dogs have utilized the past year. On February 20 in Santa Monica, a beagle/rottweiler mix led a 13-year-old victim—whose name has been withheld by police—to a garage. The victim was then immediately shocked when the door closed and the only way out was to put his remaining money into a slot.
The dog has since been taken in by Animal Control and placed into a shelter in East LA.
Security camera footage of the suspect luring the victim in (Police handout).
Door-to-door business visits
An up and coming tactic that dogs are utilizing is simply to approach various Los Angeles businesses and guilt employees into gifts such as food—and not leave until the scam is completed.
The technique has been mostly observed to be taken out by pugs; 4 of the 6 cases recorded in LA have involved a pug, leading authorities to believe that an organized ring may be in play.
The pit bull in question is now in custody (Hospital surveillance).
"I was tired from my overnight shift," Los Angeles Medical Institute front desk worker and victim Guadalara Perez, 21, said. "I just wanted the dog to go away so I fed it some of my egg salad sandwich."
When seeing a dog, the first reaction may be to approach it or even pet it. Authorities are suggesting to instead do the opposite.
"Just resist the temptation," city official Corey Liang suggested. "It just shows that even old dogs can learn new tricks."