An Orange County woman is the subject of a not-so-typical lost dog story that involves a trip to a luxurious day spa and $25,000 worth of jewelry hiding in a Cadillac Escalade.
The woman’s beloved Yorkshire Terrier along with a watch and rings valued at $25,000 were stolen from her Escalade last month, and she is now offering $2,000 for anyone who will return her therapy dog, Pudsy.
Patricia Karns of San Clemente had her car burglarized on Feb. 22 while she went to a high-end spa with her daughter in the Kaleidoscope Courtyards, a shopping plaza in Mission Viejo.
The dog is especially important to Karns, as it helped her recover from a serious brain injury she suffered in 2006 when she fell backwards down a flight of stairs onto concrete, Karns’ daughter Churee Serrano said.
When Karns, 57, left the hospital after waking from a month-long coma, she got the 2-month-old terrier to help refocus her attention, Serrano said.
“The dog is therapeutic for her and got her mind off of what she’s been through,” she said.
Serrano said the two went to the Burke Williams Day Spa from 6 to 8 p.m. and left the dog in the car, something Karns does frequently.
“She leaves water, food and a blanket with the dog in the car, and cracks the windows for her,” Serrano said. “The dog cries if she doesn’t bring it with her, so she takes her everywhere and has since she’s had it.”
Jim Amormino, spokesperson for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, said he advises against leaving dogs or any valuables in the car, adding that thieves especially pinpoint cars near gyms and spas.
“Crooks know people at those places take their jewelry off and leave it in their car,” Amormino said. “It’s rare that people do leave their dogs in the car, but after you do something for a while you become complacent I guess.”
The Escalade was parked just a few cars down from a valet post, Serrano said. When they returned to the car that evening, Karns realized her 5-year-old dog was missing along with some pricey jewelry she put into her glove box.
The stolen jewelry, valued at $25,000, was hidden in a designer sunglasses case, Amormino said. He added that Escalades are often targeted for their valuable third-row seats, but officials are not sure if that was the original intention.
Karns and Serrano didn’t immediately realize the car had been broken into but soon noticed the lock on the driver’s side door was pushed in with a screwdriver-like tool, Serrano said. Amormino confirmed the break-in.
“They bypassed the alarm and took her dog and the other stuff, the dog being the most important thing obviously,” she said. “The guy at the valet said he didn’t notice anything, but her car was in a very safe spot.”
The Kaleidoscope Courtyards center is providing surveillance video to the sheriff's department and any information it needs to expedite the dog's return, Kaleidoscope's Director of Operations Lisa Miller said in a statement to NBC4.
"Although an isolated incident, security has been stepped up as a precaution," Miller said. "As a fellow dog owner, I'd like to see the dog returned safely to her owner, and we are actively taking steps to hopefully help speed her safe return."
After Karns' fall seven years ago, she was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid in the brain that can damage brain tissue, Serrano said. Karns had a brain shunt tube put in to help drain the fluid before adding dangerous pressure to her brain.
The $2,000 reward will be given to anyone who can return the dog to its rightful owner. Amormino said there are no leads on the search for Pudsy.
Anyone with information about Pudsy can email Serrano and Karns at email@example.com or call the Orange County Sherrif’s Office at 949-770-6011.