Former police sniffer dog stuns owners by finding purse stolen on shopping trip in Longton
EX-POLICE sniffer dog turned pet Sam stunned his owners after he used his incredible sense of smell to find a stolen purse.
The clever German Shepherd helped recover Tracy Thompson's purse after she was pick-pocketed on a shopping trip.
Sam was joined by Tracy's 25-year-old daughter Jenny Thompson as he put his tracking skills to one last test.
Tracy, aged 48, from Blackshaw Moor near Leek, explained: "I couldn't believe what happened. I knew Jenny had taken him down there but I never thought he would find anything. He's amazing."
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Housewife Tracy was targeted by distraction thieves as she visited Pets at Home in Longton on Tuesday.
She was upset because the purse contained photographs of her brother Paul who died aged 21, and a snap from her daughter's wedding.
Her father's £80 pension, £35 cash and a number of bank cards were also taken.
Tracy said: "A couple engaged me in conversation and then they took my purse.
"I rushed after them but they swore at me and ran off.
"I just thought if I could get the purse back maybe they would have left the photographs. I was calling for help but no-one could stop them."
After hearing how upset her mother was, Jenny decided to get Sam on the case.
The horse-importer, who lives with her mother, bought Sam from the force a year ago.
He had been put through rigorous training and worked for six weeks before Jenny snapped him up as a family pet and protector at her yard.
Jenny said: "After seeing how upset my mum was I thought we might as well give it a go and see if Sam could remember his training.
"People thought I was mad because he hadn't worked as a tracker for more than a year, but I just had a feeling that he would pull it off."
Jenny and a friend drove Sam down to the store that evening to try to sniff out some clues.
She added: "I just told him to search and instantly he knew what to do."
Sam pulled his owner through a broken wall on to wasteland around 500 metres from the shop.
She said: "We were searching a big area and the grass was up to my knees when he suddenly Sam lay down.
"When I looked he had a bank card between his front paws with my mother's name on. I was so shocked I started crying."
Over two hours, Sam managed to also recover Tracy's purse, one of the photographs, vouchers and receipts.
He also picked up a bag of brand new medical equipment that had been dumped.
Jenny said: "Sam is an absolute star and the best dog anyone could ever wish to have as a pet. He is very intelligent and knows when something is not right.
"These items were hidden and you would never have known they were there."
A Staffordshire Police spokesman said: "An investigation was undertaken by officers. A 26-year-old woman from Stoke-on-Trent was arrested on Thursday in connection with the theft.
"She has been bailed, pending further inquiries, to a date in September.
"Our inquiries into this incident are ongoing."