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Stolen dog reunited with owner; delivery driver arrested


ENCINITAS, Calif. — Denise Reppenhagen’s golden retriever, Finn, went missing from her home on Hollyridge Drive in Encinitas on Oct. 9 after the garage door was accidently left open, said the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

A neighbor of Reppenhagen reviewed surveillance video from one of their home security cameras taken on October 9 and footage showed a woman believed to be an Amazon driver delivering packages in the neighborhood, Sheriff’s said. This included a delivery at Reppenhagen’s home.

As it turns out, the footage was crucial in bringing Finn home as is showed a delivery woman loading the golden retriever into her car and driving away. Reppenhagen reported the theft to the North Coastal Sheriff’s Station and shared the ring video to local media.

Ring video shows a delivery driver leading Fin into her car. (Photo released by Denise Reppenhagen)

Reppenhagen told FOX 5 someone recognized the dognaper from the video and got in contact with her. From there, Reppenhagen said she was finally able to file a police report since there was valid evidence, a potential suspect name as well as a provided address to potentially locate them.

Detectives served a search warrant at a home in the City of San Diego on Oct. 29. Sheriff’s said an individual by the name of Dena Vindiola, who works for a third-party delivery service that contracts for Amazon, admitted to stealing Finn at that time. The dog, however, wasn’t there.

Vindiola’s side of the story, Sheriff’s explained, is that she tried to give the dog to a friend and then to her mother, but neither wanted the golden retriever.

Finn was later turned over to Helping Hands, an animal shelter in El Centro, Reppenhagen told FOX 5. The organization then handed the dog over to a rescue organization called Lab Retrieve SD, she explained.

Reppenhagen says when Fin finally arrived at the organization, they shared with her the only lab in their care was one named Bear. This was based off of the dog’s microchip information.

However, she went online and verified that the dog up for adoption in the posting was, in fact, hers. Reppenhagen said she believes sometime during Fin’s dognapping escapade someone adjusted the chip demographic of her dog, which she found to be vey alarming.

Reppenhagen said she was finally reunited with Finn on Oct. 30 after a representative from Lab Retrieve SD brought him from El Centro to meet her at a local Petco.

Denise Reppenhagen was finally reunited with her golden retriever, Finn, on Oct. 30, 2022. (Photo released by Denise Reppenhagen)

Meanwhile, Sheriff’s said Vindiola was arrested for grand theft and other charges. She was booked into the Vista Detention Facility.

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