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May 8, 2014

Social media sting returns stolen dogs to owner

CHICKASHA, Okla. — A sting operation launched after two stolen English bulldogs were recognized on a Facebook page led to the arrest of three people near Oklahoma City this week, officials said.

Deputy Ryan Lake of the Grady County Sheriff’s Department said he saw a post by the dogs’ owner, Tiffany Claunch, on a yard sale Facebook page about two missing English bulldogs, one white and one brindle. He also saw a post by Justin Garver on a separate page called “OKC Buy Sell Trade.” He said he took a screenshot of the post and asked Claunch if she recognized the dogs.

After she confirmed the dogs were hers, Lake said, he told her to call the Purcell Police Department and arrange to buy the animals.

Scott Stephens, a detective with the Purcell Police Department, met with Claunch to discuss stolen dogs. He said he had Claunch give her friend his unidentifiable phone number to pass along to the suspect, and a meeting was arranged at a gas station in Purcell for the exchange.

Stephens, Claunch, Purcell Police Sgt. Todd Carpenter and Purcell Police Detective Kevin Austin drove to the Shamrock station, where a vehicle matching the description the suspect gave arrived and the driver, Joshua Turnpaugh, exited the car with the dogs. Stephens said he ordered Turnpaugh to put the dog down and place his hands on top of the car to be handcuffed.

"I asked (Turnpaugh) where he got the dogs,” Stephens said. “I told him the dogs were stolen. He said he did not know that."

Information for this story was reported by the Chickasha (Okla.) Express-Star.

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