NINE puppies stolen from a house in Rodbourne two weeks ago have been returned safe and sound to their mother, as police thanked residents for their help in finding them.

Albert Romaine is weaning the puppies after his five-year-old bitch Lexi accidentally became pregnant.

He was left distraught when he returned to his Percy Street home after going into town between 8.30am and 10.30am on January 13 to find his nine newborn Stafford-shire bull terrier/collie cross-breed puppies had been stolen.

The 55-year-old, who also owns two cats and fish, said: “I was going through hell when they went. I was just going ballistic. I searched all over the house for them and I was shaking. I am so happy they are back – I might have a party.

“I am so grateful to everyone who helped to find them and the police have been brilliant. They were very, very helpful.

“When they are old enough I want to give one to the police, and they told me they would probably donate it to the air ambulance.”

Most of the puppies were returned home within a week of being stolen, with two of the smallest found the following evening.

A third was recovered on January 15, another on January 16, and three were found on January 17, two of which were thought to have been spotted in the woods by the public.

An eighth puppy was found on January 18 and the final one was brought home on Saturday. It had been found in a house in Liden, and Albert was delighted to have the full litter back.

Detective Constable Ian Crouch said: “It was a superb effort with all concerned and a big thanks to the Swindon community who came forward to assist us with our enquiries and with the return of the puppies.”

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Albert Romaine reunited with one of the puppies

Albert said: “I am very, very happy.

“I think it will go to court soon and when it does I will go along to court myself.”

Albert was particularly concerned about the puppies since they are only five weeks old, and not yet fully weaned.

He said: “I was worried that they might be harmed or might be done in because they’re not old enough yet to be away from their mother.”

As well as donating a puppy to the police, Albert plans to keep one for himself and sell the other seven.

It is thought that the person or people who stole the pups got into Albert’s home by using the spare key, which they may have stolen at an earlier time.

Albert has now had all the locks changed, and bolt locks installed on his front and his back door.

l Last Friday Wiltshire Police charged a 26-year-old man with burglary in relation to the theft, and released another 29-year-old man on police bail, pending further enquires.