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Woman Frantic After Dog Is Stolen Right Behind Her Back In Chelsea

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A woman said she turned her back for only a split second and her beloved dog was gone, stolen on the streets of New York City.

CBS 2's Vanessa Murdock spoke to the grieving owner, and the man who has been trying to help solve the case, on Wednesday.

"He's a good dog. Don't mistreat him. Don't abuse him. He's used to only love," Maria Vazquez said as she fought back tears while talking about her beloved Shih-tzu, "Skylar." "The love I have for that dog is immense."

Skylar was stolen from Vazquez on the streets of Chelsea, near 19th and 6th Avenue, on Sept. 21.

"My dog was never, ever, ever left outside when I went in to shop – ever," Vazquez said. "This was an opportunist. All I did was put the leash on a hook. He was right beside me."

Vazquez turned her back for a second to reach for something, and when she turned around, he was gone.

"I went crazy in the street," Vazquez said. "I'll be honest – I looked like a lunatic."

A Good Samaritan helped, driving Vazquez to look for Skylar – and she saw him.

"There's the guy with my dog, standing there, as if he was the owner," she said.

Vazquez called out, "That's my dog!" But the alleged dognapper quickly took off, and was seen running with Skylar cupped in his arm in a surveillance video.

Seconds later, Vazquez could be seen trying to catch the thief, but her knees gave out. She has been searching for him tirelessly ever since.

"Skylar, I'm searching for you," Vazquez said. "I have not given up."

Vazquez said she is also handing out fliers and posting them. She even has the help of a pet security consultant, pro-bono and he said this case is not a dead end.

The security consultant, Angel Nieves, said the video offers clues about the case. He shared them with an NYPD detective at the 13th Precinct.

"I don't want to jeopardize the lead," Nieves said, "(but) I did give him something. Hopefully, it will pan out."

And at home in Chelsea, Skylar's empty dog bed, toys and heartsick owner continued to wait for him.

"All I ask is that someone have a heart and adopt your own dog," Vazquez said. "He belongs here at home."

Nieves said pet thefts are more common than  one might think. Dogs such as Skylar are typically stolen for money, bait, or lab testing.

The dog-napping suspect is only described as being thought to be in his 20s.

What penalty do you think would be appropriate for the dognapper? Tell us below...

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