The thief cuddles the fluffy watchdog. Image Credit: Screengrab

Washington: The burglar had just stepped out of the garage with a $1,300 bicycle when one of the home’s residents came bounding outside.

The household’s golden retriever wanted some pets. “Hi, buddy,” the man told the fluffy watchdog as it leaped up to kiss him during the July 15 burglary.

Chuckling, the man wheeled the Electra 3-speed bike back inside the San Diego garage and leaned it against a shelf, surveillance video shared by the city’s police department shows.

It was an unusual detour for a bike theft, which bike registry Project 529 estimates happens 2 million times in North America each year.

Police asked anyone who recognizes the man in the video or the stolen bike to help identify the suspect.

The 2019 black bicycle has “8-ball” caps on its tire valves, an “8-ball” logo on its frame and a black-and-white checkered pattern on the rear wheel frame.

After returning to the garage, the burglar lavished affection on his enthusiastic greeter.

“You’re so cool. Come here,” he told the dog, bending down to cup its face. “You’re the coolest dog I’ve ever known. I love you, too. You’re a sweetheart.”

Then the man apparently became concerned that the dog had a clear path to running away.

“Where’s your dad?” he asked the retriever while rubbing its belly. “Your dad should know enough not to leave the garage open.”

Then he called out toward the open door of the home: “Dad! Where are you?”

After professing his love to the dog one more time, the burglar grabbed the bike by the handles and wheeled it away.

The golden retriever, meanwhile, watched him leave - tail still wagging.