See Update – 8/28/08 – Three Arrested!

A woman who stole a couple’s sport utility vehicle at a cemetery and later abandoned it, leaving the owners’ crippled dog inside to die in sweltering heat, remains at large, says a sheriff’s investigator.

On Saturday afternoon, Craig and Mary Michael, both in their 60s, were visiting Riverside National Cemetery to pay tribute to veterans on V-J Day.

The Hemet couple parked their Ford Excursion and left it idling to run the air conditioner for their 16-year-old wolf-malamute mix, Rebel, who suffered from hip dysplasia. They told a newspaper they were less than 20 feet from the vehicle when a woman got behind the wheel and drove off.

According to Franchville, the Michaels’ Excursion was found around 4:30 p.m. Sunday near the corner of Edgemont Street and Bay Avenue in Moreno Valley, roughly three miles from where it was taken.

“They didn’t give the dog any water,” Craig Michael said. “They just walked away and took the keys with them.” Franchville said there have not been any reports in the last year of auto thefts at the National Cemetery, which falls under sheriff’s department jurisdiction because it lies just outside the Riverside city boundaries.

If the thief is caught, she could face animal cruelty charges, in addition to grand theft auto, Franchville said.

Anyone with information was encouraged to contact the sheriff’s department’s Perris station at (951) 210-1000.

When I first read about the couple’s car being stolen so brazenly with their dog inside, I crossed my fingers and hoped that the POS’s who stole the vehicle would at least have a little heart and then I heard the sad end. I so hope these thieves are caught because they’re not just thieves, they’re also killers!! I guess we can just be thankful it wasn’t a young couple with a baby in the vehicle that was stolen!

Rest in peace Rebel!!

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