A family are overjoyed after being reunited with their dog that was snatched from outside a supermarket.

The Stokes, of Cranbourne Road, were left devastated when short haired pure breed Chihuahua ‘Rocky’ was taken from outside Tesco Express in Potters Bar on September 2.

Daughter Clarice, 16, had been bought the pet in May to help her through a major operation, in which she lost the sight in one eye.

The Oaklands College student tied her beloved pooch up outside the shop in Orchard Parade for less than ten minutes as she went to buy chocolate bars for her two brothers, but when she returned, he was gone.

She said: “I was in tears for days but I always had a hope he would come back. He helped me through the operation and, it sounds cheesy, but he became my friend.

“He always follows me around – it felt so empty and incomplete without him there. He’s a good character and he makes everyone laugh.”

Tesco CCTV footage confirmed the dog had been stolen and a police investigation began, though Clarice’s mother Sarah admits the family held little hope of getting him back.

The 39-year-old said: “There was a lot of upset – it was horrible. He has become like one of my children – he is part of the family. We didn’t honestly think he was going to come home.”

PC Ross Paybody, leading the hunt for the missing mutt, made a break through last week though when the Metropolitan Police identified a lead suspect in the case.

Officers subsequently executed a warrant at an address in Borehamwood where they found the nine-month old pup and arrested a man on suspicion of the theft.

PC Paybody was left with the happy task of taking the pinched pooch homeward bound on Wednesday last week.

He said: “It was very much the highlight of my career, to return Rocky, and the reaction when we turned up was definitely something very special.”

Police arrived at the Stokes front door, where PC Paybody asked Mrs Stokes to come out to the car.

She said: “When he asked me to come outside I honestly thought the worst but as soon as I opened the car door, I knew it was him.

“The police have been fantastic. They have kept me informed all the way and come to see us face-to-face. It means everything to have him back – we’re back to normal, we’re a family again.”

Clarice added: “It’s all back to normal. I feel complete again – it is wonderful. I’ve got my friend back – I’m over the moon.”