It happened around 1:15 p.m. Thursday at The Pet Shoppe located on State Route 35 in Middletown.
Surveillance video appears to show the suspect playing with the 9-week-old cockapoo before scooping up the puppy and running off.
"I was right at the counter with him," owner Dana DiEugenio said. "We've been in business 15 years. This has never happened before, and I didn't expect him to run out with a puppy. So when he ran out, I was shocked. And my first instinct is go run after him. I ran after him outside. He had a getaway car waiting for him in a different parking lot, and he got into the back of the vehicle and took off."
The dog, weighing about 2 pounds, sells for $4,300.
DiEugenio said that a young Black male came into the store and asked if they had any cockapoo or goldendoodle puppies for sale.
After the dognapping, the suspect ran to an adjacent parking lot and got into a small black SUV, possibly a Nissan Rouge, with the partial New Jersey license plate of "X58."
He was wearing a sweatshirt with the words "Key Street" on the sleeves in white lettering.
"Please, please return the puppy back to us so we can take care of it," DiEugenio said. "I don't care about anything else, except the puppy safe return. If somebody does have it and you're not going to return it, please just make sure that you're feeding it enough...Our concern is the puppy. We just want the puppy to be OK."
Anyone with information is asked to call the Middletown Police Detective Bureau at (732) 615-2120.
Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call the Tipline at (732) 615-3277.
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