A 19-year-old Shakopee man and his girlfriend have been charged with collecting $500 in ransom in exchange for a neighbor's missing dog.
Nghia My Mai, 19, of Shakopee, and Mimi Nguyen Cao, 18, of Rosemount, were charged with felony theft and appeared in court this week in connection with the alleged scheme to make a quick buck off of Opie, a 2-year-old Stratford bull terrier.
According to the criminal complaint:
On May 8, Opie got loose, prompting owners Juan Arevalo and his wife, Balbina Bonilla, to search for the dog and put up "lost dog" posters.
Four days later, someone called Bonilla and said that a "bad and crooked" person had Opie and wanted $500 for its safe return. The caller added that harm would come to Opie if the money wasn't paid.
After Bonilla arranged a handoff, Arevalo called police. He then got into a car with Mai and Cao in Shakopee and turned over the $500 in exchange for Opie.
Police traced the car to Mai's address in Shakopee, near where the dog's owners live. Under questioning the next day, Mai admitted taking the money.
The charge is a felony because it involves a theft valued at more than $1,000. Opie was bought as a puppy for $1,500.