‘I’ll pay anything’: Global soccer star pleads for return of dog stolen in L.A. break-in

Soccer star Daniel Sturridge and his Pomeranian, Lucci.
Soccer star Daniel Sturridge and his Pomeranian, Lucci. Instagram

It’s a made-for-the-movies thriller playing out high in the Hollywood Hills: Three thieves broke into international soccer star Daniel Sturridge’s home Monday night and snatched away Lucci, his beloved Pomeranian.

“They took my dog. Whoever brings back my dog, 20 grand, straight up. Twenty G’s. Thirty G’s, whatever,” Sturridge said in a post on his Instagram account.

They wore heavy sweatshirts. They wore masks, and Sturridge, who had stepped out of the house for a few hours, caught it all on security cameras, he told Los Angeles television station KTLA.

A KTLA reporter described the Sturridge family as “devastated” at the dognapping, desperate for news.

Lucci “is like his child. A child that’s now been kidnapped,” KTLA’s Steve Kuzj said Tuesday. Belongings in bags were also taken from the home’s upstairs, the soccer star said.

“It’s not even about who did it for me. We just care about Lucci. All I care about is the dog being returned,” Sturridge told KTLA outside his home on Tuesday. Los Angeles police are investigating, CBS Los Angeles reported late Tuesday morning via Twitter. Detectives were not sure whether thieves targeted Sturridge or whether the burglary was a random act.

Sturridge may not be a household a name in the States, but he’s positively massive back home in Britain, where the 29-year-old is a star striker for England’s national team and, until last month, for Liverpool of the Premier League.

Sturridge took his 3.4 million Instagram followers on a tour through his ransacked home in the hours after the break-in, a glass door smashed in, shards scattered across the floor, and pleaded for help.

“Listen, somebody broke into my house in L.A They took my dog from the house. Listen, whoever knows who broke into my crib, I’ll pay you anything. I’m dead serious. I want to know who took my s---,” Sturridge said in the video.

The only-in-Hollywood storyline has played out several times on the silver screen. Cult favorite 2012’s “Seven Psychopaths” features Sam Rockwell as a dog thief who with Christopher Walken teams to steal a Shih Tzu owned by a Los Angeles gangster played by Woody Harrelson. In 2016’s “Keanu,” the comedy team of Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele wend their way through L.A.’s underworld to find a crime boss’ stolen kitten. And in 2017’s direct-to-video action-comedy “Once Upon a Time in Venice,” Bruce Willis is an L.A. private eye who – sense a theme? – hunts down the street gang who stole his dog, Buddy.

But Sturridge’s case is all too real and quickly went global Tuesday. Within hours, The BBC, The Guardian newspaper, Sky News and ESPN FC, the Worldwide Leader’s soccer network, were all over the story and Sturridge’s heartrending appeal.

A glance at his official website shows a streaking Sturridge working his magic on the pitch, sending one ball after the other into the back of the net. “Composed...Creative...Determined,” the site reads. On Tuesday, add the words “angry,” “confused,” “heartbroken.”

“How can you break into somebody’s home in L.A. and take somebody’s dog? Are you crazy?” Sturridge said on the Instagram video, wearing a pained expression. “You’ve come into a house to take a dog. I want my dog back, man. Somebody please find my dog. I’ll pay anything.”

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Darrell Smith covers courts and California news for The Sacramento Bee. He joined The Bee in 2006 and previously worked at newspapers in Palm Springs, Colorado Springs, Colo., and Marysville. A Sacramento Valley native, Smith was born and raised at Beale Air Force Base, near Marysville.