It takes some nerve to steal a family pet, especially when it belongs to a little kid. However, it turns out that some criminals do have consciences after all.

A young girl is delighted to have been reunited with her puppy just a few days after she was stolen - after the dog was apparently returned by the same thieves who nabbed her in the first place.

The eight-week-old Labrador, Sasha, was taken during a burglary in Melbourne, Australia this past Monday morning - along with other items.

The family were "devastated" that their four-year-old Maia's "best friend" had been taken, but found Sasha in their garden on Thursday morning, seemingly left there by the crooks who had been overcome by a dose of guilty conscious.

Credit: Victoria Police

"We didn't want to get our hopes up. And then this morning, my wife got up to make herself a coffee, walked past the sliding door, and noticed that there was a figure moving by the kennel," one of the owners, Ryan Hood, told Australia's Today news programme.

"We think that whoever took her either has a conscience or got scared and just dropped her over the fence ... We don't care to be honest, we're just glad to have her back."

The Labrador puppy, which has a medical condition that needs regular attention, had only been part of the family for a week when she was taken by the thieves.

Ryan and a tearful Maia had already appeared on Australian news asking for information to help find the puppy.

The story received national coverage before the dog was found in the garden on Thursday morning.

Thankfully, Sasha was found to be in good health after she apparently suffered no harm during her absence.

However, Ryan added that the dog does seem to have developed a "fascination for shoes" while she was missing.

Although the family are celebrating Sasha's return, Victoria Police are still continuing to investigate the burglary.

The other items stolen from the family - a laptop, an iPad and pieces of jewellery - have still not been returned.

The police have appealed for further information from members of the public to help them catch the thieves.

Senior Constable Adam Leggo told Australia's ABC news that stealing the dog was probably unplanned.

"It's a bit of a strange one. It's difficult to understand what they were thinking," Leggo said.

All that really matters, of course, is that Sasha is now back with Maia where she belongs. Just watch out for those shoes.

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