Police: Woman Held Cat For Ransom After Losing Dog
updated 10:19 a.m. CT, Tues., July. 1, 2008
GREENACRES, Fla. - A South Florida woman has been charged with theft and extortion, accused by police of kidnapping a family's cat and holding it for ransom in hopes of getting her dog returned.
Police said it all began in May when Linda Urioste's black Labrador Scooby disappeared from her Greenacres home.
The dog was picked up by Animal Care and Control and held for five days before being adopted by Jutta Hollar and her husband.
Hollar told WPBF News 25 that they had the pup -- now named "Buddy" -- about two weeks when they received word that Urioste had stopped by Animal Care and Control looking for him.
Hollar said that she and her husband were considering returning the dog until they met with Urioste to discuss the situation.
"But she was very rude and yelled at us and treated us really not very nice," Hollar told WPBF.
She said that they decided that Buddy was staying put when Urioste threatened to sue them.
A few days after the confrontation, Hollar realized that the family's cat, Mitz, was gone from her usual outside spot. Hollar began to wonder where the cat could have gone when she received a phone call from Urioste.
"I was the used-to-be-owner, but I was wondering if you were missing a gray ***** cat. Because a ***** cat ran out in front of my car not far from your house and I saved its life. I almost ran him over. So, I was just wondering how you are enjoying Scooby, because I am enjoying your ***** cat while he is in his crate. You call it crate, I call it a cage. Have a nice day," Urioste is heard saying on a answering machine tape.
Greenacres police said that Urioste admitted to them that she had the cat and refused to give it back unless the Hollars gave her dog back.
Urioste was arrested and charged with theft and extortion.
Mitz was returned to the Hollars' home safely.
"When I realized what she had done, it was just unbelievable. Just unbelievable," Hollar told WPBF.
Urioste did not return a phone call for comment. According to a police report, she told police that she waited so long to look for her dog because she thought he had been stolen.