It's a scary thought: you let your pup hang and play in your backyard while you're at work. You come home to greet your furry pal, but when you get to your backyard, your dog is gone! That's been happening more and more in the Tri-Cities! Criminals are hopping fences and stealing people's pets to sell them and make a quick buck! And the sad thing is, many people buying pets don't know it's stolen. Police call this "flipping" pets, and it's a crime that is heartbreaking for many residents.

Amanda Edwards

So, what can you do to prevent the cycle? Make sure all your gates are locked if leaving your pet outside. Also, even if you're home, check on your pets who are playing outside. Change up your routine if you can. Many of the pet "flippers" watch pet owners' routines to see when they are gone to check when is best to grab the pet.

Also, if you're buying a pet from a private owner, make sure to ask if the pet it micro-chipped, and have that chip checked ASAP. If the vet finds that the info on the pet's micro-chip has different information than the person who sold the pet, you'll want to report that to authorities. And of course, if you see anyone out of the ordinary in your neighborhood, be a good neighbor and look out for each other. Let's hope we can help deter these criminals and keep our little fuzzy buddies safe.