Man fears worst after car is stolen with family dog in it. Then man spots head sticking out of lake

January 2, 2018 6:20 pm Last Updated: January 2, 2018 6:20 pm

Who doesn’t like to take their dog out with them on a drive? It’s fun for everyone, as the dog can get out of the house, and you can have your best friend with you to keep you company as you run a few errands.

In Hemet, CA, James Noteboom was recently driving around in a loaner car from the dealership with the family dog, Reno. They stopped at Pam’s Donuts, and Noteboom popped inside to get a medium coffee, like he always does, and he left Reno waiting in the car. According to him, he was only inside for 2 minutes.

But after getting his coffee, he realized something.

His car, along with Reno, was nowhere to be found. Someone had stolen it.

The car had just vanished, without a trace. And James couldn’t help but fear the worst for his dog. The rental car was replaceable; his loving 6-year-old dog was anything but.

Without any lead to go on, James decided to call the police—and then tell Helga, his wife, the horrible news. And like any mother worrying about her dog, she became very worried.

“To best describe it, I went berserk,” Helga told NBC Los Angeles. She wasn’t at all sure what the thief would do with the poor pooch. All she knew was that she wanted her dog back.

James, Helga, and members of the family tried searching desperately for Reno. But after hours of looking, they had no success. They feared they had lost their beloved pet.

Meanwhile, in Menifee, about a 30-minute drive from Hemet, US Marine Master sergeant Martin Huizar was outside, walking his dogs with his family. As they approached a lake, he saw something.

It was a dog in the water, shivering from the cold.

It was Reno.

“He looked like he was swimming but I could see that he could touch the ground,” Huizar said.

The man pulled the dog out of the water, and despite how cold the dog was, it looked like Reno was fine. Luckily, the dog had a collar with his owners’ number on it, so the Marine called the number to say that the dog had been found.

Only 12 hours after the kidnapping, Reno was reunited with James and Helga.


“I’m just grateful to no end,” Helga said. “There’s just no way to thank him enough.”

A surveillance video later showed how the loaner car had been taken from the coffee shop. Upon seeing James leave his car, a man had immediately gotten out of his and went into James’s, and took off. Though he is still being looked for, Huziar thinks that the police should take this more seriously than just a carjacking.

“Hopefully if police ever catch him they add this to the crime, what they did,” Huizar said.

Taking a pet away from its family is indeed a horrible thing to do. And this criminal hopefully will be caught for his heinous actions and be brought to justice.

Huizar’s discovery came in the nick of time, as Reno could have possibly perished from the cold had he not been found.

If anything, this story shows that it’s important to always cherish your pet, as you don’t know if something bad could happen to them tomorrow or anytime.