By SDCN Staff
Encinitas, CA–A delivery driver was arrested on suspicion of stealing a golden retriever from a home in Encinitas earlier this month, authorities said.
On October 29, Sheriff’s Department detectives served a search warrant at a home in San Diego. The resident, Dena Vindiola, 36, admitted to stealing Finn, but the dog was not at her home. Detectives learned she works for a third-party delivery service that contracts for Amazon deliveries. Vindiola told deputies she tried to give the dog to a friend and then to her mother, but neither wanted the golden retriever. Finn was later turned into an animal shelter in El Centro.
Vindiola was arrested for grand theft and other charges. She was booked into the Vista Detention Facility.
On October 9, Denise Reppenhagen’s golden retriever, Finn, went missing from her home on Hollyridge Drive in Encinitas after the garage door was accidentally left open by a family member. For weeks, Reppenhagen searched the neighborhood, contacted neighbors and animal shelters, as well as distributed flyers in the hopes of locating Finn.
On October 26, one of Reppenhagen’s neighbors reviewed surveillance video from one of their home security cameras taken on October 9. The footage showed a woman believed to be an Amazon driver delivering packages in the neighborhood, including at Reppenhagen’s home. The video also showed the woman loading Finn into her car and driving away.
After watching the footage, Reppenhagen reported the theft to the North Coastal Sheriff’s Station. She also reached out to local media with the surveillance video in the hopes someone may know the suspect or Finn’s whereabouts. Sheriff’s detectives were soon contacted by someone who recognized the suspect after watching the story air on local media.
Hoping to locate the stolen dog, detectives immediately contacted the animal shelter in El Centro. They learned Finn was staying with a foster family while awaiting adoption.
On October 30, detectives coordinated with Reppenhagen and the foster family to meet at a Petco store in San Diego for the safe return of Finn.