Just past dawn, a gray SUV pulled into Hailey Shelton's driveway and made off with Chloe and Dixie.
Nobody heard a bark on that June morning. Nobody found an open gate.
The only explanation came from a neighbor, who witnessed the early morning dognappers from across the street.
"They just straight-up took two puppies," said Shelton, 19, who lives in Durham.
Animal advocates are reporting a sharp rise in dog theft - a murky and hard-to-track crime that often goes unreported.
The American Kennel Club tracks larcenies through a national database, and its figures show at least a 32 percent uptick so far in 2011.
The group bases its numbers on media reports of stolen dogs and customers who call its Companion Animal Recovery service.
By mid-July, its database showed 191 stolen, compared to 145 over the same period in 2010.
Those 191 dogs have far exceeded 162, the AKC's 2009 total.
"Some are taken out of homes, some are taken out of cars, some are taken out of pet stores," said Lisa Peterson, AKC spokeswoman. "I've even seen some taken out of a child's arms on a park bench."
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