Spokane Co. deputies arrest man who reportedly stole dog from California family’s yard

PC: Spokane Co Sheriff

SPOKANE, Wash. — The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office arrested a man on Thursday who deputies say stole a dog that a family in California had gifted to their autistic child. 

Deputies first learned about the stolen dog when a woman called on Wednesday to report a suspicious man in her neighborhood, east of Sullivan and 16th Ave. 

The woman said the man, later identified as 59-year-old Mark Steel, had confronted her and asked about her neighbor the day before. Her neighbor was gone at the time, sparking her suspicion. 

The woman later learned Steel was her neighbor’s nephew, and that he had reportedly stolen the German Shepherd he was with from a family member in California. 

Steel also told the woman he and the dog needed a place to stay. He was seen parked at his uncle’s home and in the area, leaving occasionally. 

The woman spoke to a family member of her neighbor, who gave her the contact information for the family of the stolen dog. She, in turn, passed that information on to deputies. 

Deputies were able to confirm the dog was stolen by speaking with the family, which provided home surveillance video of the dog being stolen from their yard on July 31. 

Deputies found Steel in his car with the dog at around 12:10 a.m. on Thursday. He was arrested and booked into the Spokane County Jail for possession of stolen property 2nd degree. 

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Steel told deputies he found the dog running free near a highway onramp in California and picked her up to return to his friend. Instead, he said he went to meet another friend and never returned the dog. 

When asked if he realized not returning the dog was considered stealing, Steel allegedly said, “Well, once you put it like that, it sounds like it.” 

The Sheriff’s Office says SCRAPS has taken over the dog until her family can make arrangements to have her picked up.