Amazon Driver Accused of Dog-Napping

Dena Vindiola says it was an honest misunderstanding, but trial is set in California
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 16, 2022 4:10 PM CST
Amazon Driver Accused of Stealing a Dog
   (Getty / graphicphoto)

An Amazon delivery driver in California is in legal trouble for an unusual reason—she's accused of stealing a customer's dog. Dena Vindiola says it was all an honest misunderstanding, reports NBC San Diego, but a judge in Encinitas has a scheduled a trial next month. The saga began Oct. 9, when Denise Reppenhagen came home to discover that Finn, her 18-month-old golden retriever, was missing, per the Encinitas Advocate. She put the word out around the neighborhood about a lost dog, and somebody called on Oct. 24 to say they saw a delivery driver leave with Finn.

Another neighbor's surveillance video confirmed it, and police arrested Vindiola at her home a few days later, per a release from the San Diego Sheriff's Department. She had tried giving the dog to her mother and then to another person, and Finn eventually ended up at a shelter, say police. The dog and Reppenhagen were reunited three weeks after he went missing. Vindiola, who faces charges including grand theft, admitted taking the dog with her but says she thought the collarless animal was a stray.

“She saw the dog," says her attorney. "The dog followed her to the car. And the dog jumped in on its own. She was going to take it to the pound but it was a good boy, so she decided not to and took it home." Prosecutors are skeptical. "Had the defendant at any point called the police, left a note, returned to the address, done anything, frankly, the dog could have been returned,” says Deputy District Attorney William Heineken. The family says Finn was accidentally left outside without a collar the day he went missing. (More dogs stories.)

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