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Burglars poisoned a police dog. An accomplice tried to get a $20,000 reward out of it, California cops say

Police in Redding, California, have arrested four men who they say are involved in an elaborate scheme in which a police officer’s home was burglarized, guns were stolen and a police dog was poisoned.
Police in Redding, California, have arrested four men who they say are involved in an elaborate scheme in which a police officer’s home was burglarized, guns were stolen and a police dog was poisoned. Redding Police Department

Tarro the police dog was supposed to be retired — but this time, the crime came to him.

Burglars broke into a police officer’s home in Redding, Calif., on the afternoon of March 7, and stole a handful of guns that were secured inside the house, according to Redding police. And as soon as the homeowners realized their home had been broken into, they realized something else: Tarro, the retired police canine who lives in the home, had fallen ill.

The dog was rushed to a local animal hospital, where a veterinarian confirmed that Tarro had been poisoned, police said. Authorities offered first a $5,000 and then a $20,000 reward for information that could lead to an arrest and conviction in the case.

But now police have caught the four involved in that burglary and related crimes, they say — and apparently no one told one of the suspects that you shouldn’t try to claim a reward for crimes you’re entangled in.

Jonathan Crossman, 32, gave the police department a tip in the case and then tried to claim the Tarro reward money, police said. Instead of getting any reward money, though, Crossman was booked into jail.

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Jonathan Crossman, 32, of Redding, Calif. Shasta County Sheriff’s Office

Crossman had conspired with Joshua Norton, 35, to sell off some of the firearms that Norton had stolen when Norton broke into the police officer’s house and poisoned the dog, police said. Crossman faces charges of conspiracy and possession of stolen property.

Norton, meanwhile, was arrested March 9 — two days after the burglary — for unrelated outstanding warrants, police said. He’s also on probation for a separate robbery case.

But that arrest led police to do a search of Norton’s home, which revealed the stolen guns from the burglary at the police officer’s house, the Redding Searchlight reports. Norton has now been charged with burglary, conspiracy, possession of stolen property, animal cruelty and related charges, Redding police said.

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Joshua Norton, 35, of Redding, Calif. Shasta County Sheriff’s Office

Police have also arrested Aaron Friedman, 26, for being Norton’s “getaway driver” during a February burglary, police said. Friedman has been charged with burglary, conspiracy, probation violation and possession of stolen property.

Cal Demercurio, Jr., 32, was also arrested for his involvement in the incident. He’s been charged with burglary, conspiracy, animal cruelty and a handful of other crimes, police said. The investigation is ongoing.

As for Tarro? He’s expected to make a full recovery, and enjoy a well-deserved retirement.

And Tarro appears to have plenty of local admirers, judging by how high the $20,000 reward for information was. Twice as high, in fact, as the rewards being offered for information in any number of murders in the Redding area, the Searchlight reports.

But Sharon Lassiter, president of Secret Witness of Shasta County, which offered the reward, told the newspaper that an anonymous donor was the one who put up the money.

“There are a lot of dog lovers out there,” Lassiter told the Searchlight.

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