Updated at the bottom: A detective tells us that the thief returned the puppy because his pastor told him to.

Worst puppy heist ever. Or at least the most sheepish:

South Pasadena cops say that only one week after 53-year-old L.A. resident Jesus Lopez Medina lifted a $1,000 “puggle” (pug plus beagle) from Pet's Delight on Fair Oaks Avenue, he walked back into the posh pet store and tried to put it back.

Last Friday, police released surveillance video of a man in an Orlando Magic “Hardaway” jersey snatching the six-month-old little girl from her pen a week prior.

Even then, he was hesitant to a fault:

The visibly nervous suspect picked the puppy up, put her back down and looked around guiltily about a dozen times (letting surveillance cameras get a crystal-clear mug shot) before picking the puppy up a second time and scuttling out of the store. Even more awkward is the way he held the poor thing — tilted back and limbs akimbo.

Jasper and Horace, meet the competition:

Still, somehow, our stupid (alleged) criminal got away with his clumsy crime. So why did Medina bring the dog back this last weekend, prompting his arrest by South Pasadena police?

We've contacted Detective Bill Earley to see if Medina gave an explanation to cops. But we're thinking he might have been spooked by the very public surveillance footage, which made the rounds on local TV.

Or, uh, the microchip reportedly implanted in the puggle — which should have been obvious because of her value, but which Medina might have only just learned about via Friday's media coverage. Basically, if he'd ever tried to sell the puppy and someone scanned its identifying chip, she would have come up as stolen.

Even that, though, might have been less embarrassing than having to walk back into Pet's Delight and try to give employees their puggle back, limbs akimbo.

View Larger Map

Update: As if this story could get any better, Detective Earley tells us that the pastor at Molina's church saw the surveillance footage on television and ordered his congregant to return the stolen puppy. And, like a good boy, Molina did.

However, as soon as he showed up, Pet's Delight called the cops, who were able to respond immediately because the store “is probably 1,000 feet from the station,” according to Earley.

The suspect was reportedly booked for “grand theft and commercial burglary” and placed under $20,000 bail.

[@simone_electra / swilson@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

LA Weekly