International show jumper Damien Charles (pictured) and his wife Tanya were the victims of theft last week when their two dogs were stolen from their yard in South Godstone, Surrey, along with their new Mercedes four-wheel-drive.

The family’s eight-year-old Jack Russell calledJack Charles and Bugsy, a four-year-old German Shepard/Whippet were eventually found nearly 24 hours later abandoned in Billingshurst, West Sussex.

The incident happened on Friday when Damien spotted a man entering his property around lunchtime.

“I was riding in the school and saw someone open the gate, which is not unusual as we often have people making deliveries,” says Damien. “As I watched the man jumped into the vehicle, hit the central locking button and reversed off down the drive.”

“I jumped off my horse and got into the only car we had on the yard, which was an old Ford Fiesta and gave chase, but I lost them in the lanes.”

Damien’s wife Tanya immediately phoned the police, who informed their patrol units on the M25 and M23.

Things then went from bad to worse when Tanya’s father, who regularly helps to look after the dogs, suffered a heart attack in his panic to help the couple search for the missing pets.

Damien said: “My father-in-law was taken to East Surrey Hospital suffering from chest pains, but he is recovering well and is expected to be released on Saturday.”

After a sleepless night Damien and Tanya received a phone call on Saturday morning from a lady in Billingshurst saying she had found one the dogs huddled in a ditch.

“She managed to catch Bugsy and got our telephone number from his collar,” said Damien. “They were both very traumatised by their ordeal but are OK now.”

Police believe the couple were the victims of an organised car theft operation and that the car is probably already out of the country.

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