04/26/2013 09:47 am ET Updated Apr 27, 2013

Puppy Thief Cat Tattoo: Rockville Police Seek Woman With Cheshire Cat Tattoo In Alleged Maltese Theft

WASHINGTON -- It would have been the "purr"-fect crime had a security camera not caught an alleged puppy thief, with a distinctive cat tattoo, in action.

According to The Washington Post, on April 12 a woman entered the Just Puppies store on Veirs Mill Road in Rockville, Md., and spent time admiring a $1,200 Maltese puppy.

The Post reports:

She looked at the only Maltese, had a discussion with a saleswoman about the risks of hypoglycemia and asked if she could play with the puppy. “She seemed delightful when she was here,” [Just Puppies manager Jeanea] Tobiasz said.

Surveillance video shows her standing in a little stall area, looking around, appearing to bag the dog and — at 5:10 p.m. — walking out of the stall. The woman left the store a short time later, police said.

Just Puppies acquired the Maltese pup on April 8, says the Post, and an April 10 photo on the store's Facebook page shows the tiny white Maltese just days before the alleged crime.

The American Kennel Club classifies the Maltese under its 'Toy Group' classification; the breed generally weighs less than seven pounds. The puppy reportedly taken from Just Puppies weighed just one pound.

Just Puppies says it gets its puppies from "USDA and state licensed breeders, mostly in Missouri and Iowa. USDA breeders are regulated by the federal department of agriculture and are regularly inspected by the USDA as well as the state."

PETA discourages animal lovers from buying puppies from pet shops:

Most animals sold in pet stores come from mass-breeding facilities called puppy mills, where they are denied socialization, exercise, and veterinary care. The puppies are typically taken from their mothers at an early age, packed into crates, and trucked or flown hundreds of miles to brokers and then to pet stores, often without adequate food, water, or ventilation. Some puppies don't survive the grueling journey.

Police describe the accused puppy snatcher as a white woman in her late 20s, standing 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighing 115 pounds. She has a European accent and a Cheshire Cat tattoo on her neck.

As Rockville police hunt for The Girl With The Cat Tattoo, D.C. area animal shelters have plenty of pets available for adoption. Take a look!

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