Two North Carolina men accused of taking five French bulldog puppies in a brazen gunpoint robbery from a family of breeders in Lancaster County will face charges in Pennsylvania, federal authorities announced Wednesday.
Prosecutors say Christopher Lamont Stimpson Jr., 22, and Wilbert Curtis Trey Artis III, 29, both of Greensboro, N.C., fled with the dogs and the $23,500 they had agreed to pay the owners of Mountain Top Kennels after responding to an online ad.
According to court filings in their case, Stimpson first contacted the breeders in mid-October, claiming to be a puppy broker coming from North Carolina and agreed to meet the family in their West Cocalico Township home to complete the transaction.
The breeder and his family presented the pups in a white laundry basket in their living room when Stimpson and Artis arrived at their house Oct. 29. But after handing over the agreed-upon payment in stacks of $20 bills, investigators say, Artis grabbed the dogs and Stimpson swept the money off the kitchen table and tried to run out the door.
The breeder and his wife grabbed Stimpson around the waist in an attempt to stop him, spilling the cash. It was then, prosecutors say, that he pulled a gun and threatened to shoot them if they tried to impede his escape.
The breeder’s daughter, hiding in a shed, called 911 and managed to write down the license-plate number of the pickup truck that Stimpson and Artis used to flee the scene. FBI agents and local police later traced it back to a rental car agency in Greensboro.
Later, as the breeder shared his story with potential customers, one of them mentioned seeing a photo of five French bulldogs in a white laundry basket in an Instagram post from a poster in North Carolina offering the puppies for sale.
After determining the dogs in the photo were the same ones stolen from the breeder’s home, police arrested Stimpson, the account’s owner, and Artis last month. All five puppies were recovered and returned to the breeder.
Stimpson and Artis were released on house arrest during videoconference hearings by a federal court in Pennsylvania this week. They face up to 30 years in prison on charges of robbery and trafficking interstate in stolen goods.