2021 | Police & Fire

UPDATED: Family reunited with dog, SUV that were stolen from mall in Bethesda

Man charged with theft; police says he was caught trying to drop 'stray' dog at shelter


Family photo

One day after a family’s dog and SUV were stolen at Westfield Montgomery mall in Bethesda, they were recovered and a man was arrested.

Montgomery County police said the man was caught on Wednesday when he tried to drop the dog at Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center in Derwood, claiming it was a stray dog.

On Thursday morning, police said in a press release that Malik Gillispie, 24, of Germantown, has been charged with stealing the vehicle.

Police said that when they arrested him at the adoption center, he was wearing the same clothing he had on in a surveillance video at the mall. Surveillance video at the mall showed a man trying door handles of vehicles to see if they were unlocked.

Leslie Greenberg, whose family owns the dog and the SUV, was reunited with her dog, Joey, on Wednesday afternoon. She Facetimed her kids so they could see as she picked up Joey.

“It was amazing,” Greenberg said. “I’m just happy he wasn’t hurt and came back in one piece. I think he’s a little drained from the experience, he’s doing well.”

When Gillispie took the dog to the adoption center, an employee there recognized the dog from social media postings about his disappearance, tried to occupy Gillispie with paperwork, and called police, who arrested him.

Greenberg said Joey had a microchip.

She said she left the car running at the mall, and used a remote key to lock it as she ran inside.

She took Joey, who is 10 years old, with her on the excursion because her three children had left for college and the dog was lonely in the house.

The SUV, a 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe, was stolen from Westfield Montgomery mall on Tuesday at about 5:30 p.m.

Greenberg’s family took to social media to try to locate Joey, posting an online flyer asking for information on the dog’s whereabouts, with a $2,000 reward.

They included a photo of Joey and an image of the SUV.

The family also created a video about Joey and posted it on TikTok, hoping it would help them find him.

On Tuesday night, as she waited for news, Greenberg couldn’t sleep or eat, she said.

“He’s like my fourth child. My kids think he’s another family member,” Greenberg said. “We always joke that he’s my favorite child.”